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In the pages of Marc Vincenz’ short novel, Behind the Wall at the Sugar Works, the author’s use of white space allows the reader to pause, to consider, to be with its shattered prose in surprising ways. The typography allows the gestural text to explode, drawing the reader into the narrative as it circles, circles, circles around a woman’s story of love and trauma and beginning again. This is a beautifully written, absorbing lyric tale.
Wendy T Carlisle
These entries work at the margins to our inner life, held down, to be examined. Vincenz wants to assure that the caged bird deliver “true progress” at the same time remaining its own cuckoo nature within the embodied (blank and white) eternality of the beloved’s song, holding to the promise that broken lives are indeed made whole upon its return.
What do you get when you reduce a novel to a couple of hundred words as Marc Vincenz does in Behind the Wall at the Sugar Works?—Language that sparkles like perfectly cut diamonds, a tale that ceases to be a story and becomes pure universal poetry.
A haunting, disrupted lyric, Vincenz’ verse novel evokes a dystopia all too proximal—”empty cities / and ruined lives”—where even the “colored waves” and “comforting voices” of the Internet/entertainment nexus have fallen away. Refusing to blink, he narrates the nightmare of a domestic economic terror in which laborers are housed in cells, guarded, tortured, ceaselessly watched and watching: their “Wide eyes stare / heavy zeros / into spangled / heaps of sugar cubes.” As the poet notes, “Someone has to drink / their tea sweet.” Though not here, not now. Vincenz’ narrator, jealous of her own small “sugar,” inhabits a buzzing silence in which neither trust nor love are possible, only vigilance and terror. Coupling the endless war on terror with the catastrophic greed of unrestrained capitalism, Marc Vincenz drops us into our own welling darkness, the language gorgeous, terrible, and spare.
Marc Vincenz is Swiss-British, was born in Hong Kong, and currently divides his time between Reykjavik, Zurich and New York City. His work has appeared in many journals, including Washington Square Review, Canary, The Bitter Oleander, and Guernica. His recent books include The Propaganda Factory, or Speaking of Trees; Pull of the Gravitons; Gods of a Ransacked Century; and forthcoming from NeoPoiesis Press, Mao’s Moles. A new English-German bi-lingual collection, Additional Breathing Exercises, is forthcoming from Wolfbach Verlag, Zurich, Switzerland (2013). His recent translations include Kissing Nests by Werner Lutz (Spuyten Duyvil, 2013) and Secret Letter by Erika Burkart from Cervena Barva Press.