Here's a short review of Love Nailed written by dear Peggy Rosenthal. It appeared in Image's weekly newsletter just in time to help promote my upcoming reading on Monday, June 19, 7 p.m. at Elliott Bay Book Company in Seattle. Thank you, Peggy!
The short review:
If you want to be submerged in the depths of Jewish spirituality, this is the book to read: Love Nailed to the Doorpost by Richard Chess. No, not “read:” at least not “read” in the way you would read an email or a newspaper or a novel. The poems and prose-poems collected in this book draw you beneath “reading:” to a meditation, a pause, a reflection, another pause. And not really “Jewish spirituality:” for Chess’s spirituality, while deeply Jewish, is more deeply his own particular living of Judaism. Conflation, paradox, and puzzle are characteristic of these poems. In “His Murderer and His Keeper,” Chess tests out ways that his own identity is Abel’s or Cain’s—or a merging of both. The poem ends with a conflation of these two brothers and of other apparent opposites, and with the paradox that life is both punishment and gift. Richard Chess is always alert to the manifold meanings inherent in each moment of his life, each instant of his written lines. For me, reading Chess’s work is like simultaneously meditating and doing strenuous mental exercises. I love the unusual conflation.
Editors’ Note: Richard Chess, who is one of our regular Good Letters contributors, will be reading at Elliott Bay Book Company here in Seattle on Monday, June 19. Join us!
—Peggy Rosenthal, Glen Online Mentor and Good LettersWriter