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To Lose & to Pretend

Order To Lose & to Pretend
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Order To Lose & to Pretend
from Brooklyn Arts Press







"Does the 'skittery poem of our moment' thing... but succeeds!  Playful, dangerous, honest, funny, unmade.  I found myself saying 'did he just get away with that?' multiple times while reading—always a sign I've stumbled across something that I plan to carry around in my bag for a good long while and imitate when nobody's looking."
             --Karyna McGlynn, author of I Have to Go Back to 1994 and Kill a Girl

"Chris Cook's To Lose & to Pretend is evidence of a fine mind at work, a collection of poems that never settles for the obvious. His work probes the apathy and alienation of his generation, wielding poetics like a cudgel to extract the essential from the incoherence of pop culture vapidity that we have accepted as our metaphor. Startlingly honest, unafraid of humor, these poems force you to sit down and take notice."
            --Srinivas Rao, author of
In Hanuman's Hands

"Chris Cook is a true Original, in that he is a Classic."
            --Joyelle McSweeney, author of The Red Bird, of The Commandrine and Other Poems, and of Nylund, the Sarcographer


"The kaleidoscope of could have - would have - should have in Chris Cook's poetry both dazzles and amazes, taking the reader on a journey into the buzz of pop culture and the silence left in its wake. Anything is possible in these poems, and yet there is an awareness of the limitations of the world, particularly the world that is artificially constructed. With the scope of Ginsberg and the sensibility of the Romantics, Cook's poems are a place where listening to the rain counts as conversation and the language eclipses the grating like rising dough."
            --Megan Johnson, author of The Waiting, winner of the 2004 Iowa Poetry Prize


"...The challenge of witty poetry is to manage more than just a string of good jokes and keen observations, but by their juxtaposition to create an effect that is greater than the poem's best line. For Cook this must be particularly difficult, since his best lines are really, really good. [...] In his strange observation combinations, he communicates something that can't be said. [...] Cook knows the rules of poetry and how to defy them, and he knows how to make it worthwhile and fun. [...] To Lose & to Pretend is exciting and smart."
            --Adam Robinson, excerpted from his review in the Winter '09 JMWW Quarterly 

"Nothing is what many modern teens & young adults feel, and how does that apathy translate into the world of poetry? To Lose & to Pretend is the first anthology of poetry from Chris Cook. Focusing on the negligence and carelessness of the current generation, he attacks as well as embraces the attitudes. To Lose & to Pretend is something different in the world of poetry, a good pick."
            --Midwest Book Review, from the
January '09 Poetry Shelf

...D'ya hear that, "modern teens?"
.....................................
Free Radicals

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Free Radicals: American Poets Before Their First Books (Subpress, 2004) is an anthology of eighteen up-and-comers in the poetry game, as selected by editors Jordan Davis and Sarah Manguso.

The four poems in the volume by Chris O. Cook were the first of his to be published in book form, only one of which went on to be included in To Lose & to Pretend, making the poems in Free Radicals the Chris O. Cook equivalent of that rare EP the band put out before the big album.  It will become a must-have for hardcore Chris O. Cook fans, just as soon as there are any of those.

Free Radicals also contains the only published Chris O. Cook poem to mention his friend Sarah, making the volume of particular interest to people who are also friends with Sarah.  Additionally, if any of those people remember that one girl Heather, she is also in that poem.  What ever happened to her, anyway?  Is she okay?
FoF American Novel...

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to the American Novel from Amazon

The Facts On File Companion to the American Novel (Facts on File, 2006) is part of Facts On File's Companion to Literature series, joining companions to drama, poetry, and the short story.  More than 900 alphabetically arranged entries (by 224 contributors) treat authors and major works.

Chris O. Cook is author of its critical essays on:

--James T. Farrell's Studs Lonigan Trilogy.  Chris O. Cook was like, "I can make this the longest essay in the whole book, right, because Studs Lonigan is so awesome?"  And Facts on File tried to be all "Hell, no, Chris O. Cook.  Studs Lonigan is a low-modernist proletarian grotesque that only boys like; you have to write a short essay about it."  But then Chris O. Cook was like "Facts on File, don't make me come down there and slap someone."

--Henry Miller's Tropic of Capricorn.  Obviously, Chris O. Cook wrote this because someone else already had dibs on Tropic of Cancer.  But the essay did afford Chris O. Cook the opportunity to make use of the phrase "The Land of Fuck" significantly more often than do any of the other 900 entries, as well as to pretend he understood all the Henri Bergson stuff.

--Herman Melville's Moby-Dick, which people always forget is hyphenated.  After Chris O. Cook wrote the other two essays, Facts on File called him up and was like "Oooh, everyone is scared to write the one on Moby-Dick; help us, Chris O. Cook!"  And Chris O. Cook was like "She-yit, Facts on File, don't you worry your pretty little head.  Chris O. Cook gonna get aaaaall up in Moby-Dick, so deep it put your Companion to Literature series to sleep."  And Facts on File was like "Chris O. Cook, you nasty!"  And then Chris O. Cook figured out Moby-Dick.  (The secret is that nothing means anything, so people should just, you know, do whatever.)