Issue 7 :: Spring 2005  
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Reviewer:  David Meskin

The Moon is a Lighthouse
by Peter Markus

Many great things have come out of Michigan—the Model T, Mark “The Bird” Fidrych, Petosky stones, prehistoric fish, lake effect, and, now, Peter Markus’ The Moon Is a Lighthouse (from New Michigan Press, by way of Alabama). Now if you want to read the latest pseudo-literary crap that has come out of the crap machine of self-promotion from Dave Eggers or some crappy novel that tries to make bones lovely and that everybody on the subway is reading, then this isn’t the writer or the book for you. But if you want to read some amazing stories that are unlike any stories that you have ever read before, then Peter Markus is your guy and The Moon Is a Lighthouse is your book. These are stories about brothers, a girl, a lighthouse, mud, fish, a bucket, water, stars, the sky, the river, the moon, mouths, and holes. These are stories that are created out of a language would make Andy Devine smile, but that is particular to Peter Markus. The phrasing of the sentences and the sentences of the stories and the stories of the book become a chant that will enchant the reader. Peter Markus will become your religion and you will worship the moon.

Jim Giraffe
by Daren King

Did you read Daren King’s Boxy an Star? If you haven’t read Boxy an Star, then stop reading this review, go find a copy, and start reading. It is one of the most linguistically inventive books that I have ever read (think Riddley Walker, but with pillheads).

Are you done reading Boxy an Star? Ok, Daren King’s second novel is Jim Giraffe. You could think of Jim Giraffe as a contemporary version of Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, a really twisted, superperverted version of it. All you have to do is substitute everyday life for Christmastime, one night for a year or so, hip fictional language for that 19th-century crap, and a ghost giraffe for those other three ghosts. You also need to substitute a loss of everything—“That ghost giraffe had taken everything. My wife, my home, my career.”—for any sort of redemption.

The ghost giraffe leads to some great scenes. In one, the narrator, being led on a ghostly journey of understanding by the ghost giraffe, watches his father masturbate to gay porn. In another, the narrator meets a boy from his childhood who is still thirteen years old. In another, a truly touching scene, the narrator meets an overweight character in the hospital who dresses up like a superhero (named after the publisher, Jonathan Cape) and has sex with sick people to make them feel better.

Besides that, there are other great characters in Jim Giraffe besides the ghost giraffe. A ghost rhinocerous lives under the kitchen sink, an old woman steals indoor footwear, and a neighbor who likes television more than life.

There are some amazing turns in Jim Giraffe.

Here’s one:

“’And I robbed a bank,’ I joke. ‘I took all of the money, and ran away.’

“’I robbed a river bank,’ Jim says. ‘Ate all the fish.’

“’Yes,’ I say, getting carried away, ‘and we came back and ate all the water, and the river bank, and the sky.’”

Here’s another one:

“I crouch on my hands and knees and insert my hands into the drain. My hands freeze up and fall off, and I fall over.

“Giving up, I stand up, brush the snow from my graph-paper trousers and begin the long walk home. I have barely gone two paces when my legs freeze up and fall off, and I fall over.”

That’s enough. That should convince you that this is the most amazing novel about a talking ghost giraffe that has ever been, or ever will be, written.