Partyknife by Dan Magers
Birds, LLC., 2012; 88 pp
Reviewed by Robert Torres
Dan Magers' Partyknife is the loud hipster you try, at every party, to avoid. He's always talking about the last best party he went to, touting some band he hopes you've never heard of, and trying to justify his casual racism. He can't quite finish any discussion he starts, but when the beer is mostly gone, he will take your roommate into a back room and try to amaze her with how self-aware he is of his own inability to express emotions.
"Black dudes always know when you're high," says Magers in a poem of the same title. In "Everyting is plugged in at top volume," he writes "I ejaculate into a sock and give it to Chinese people to wash./ They are my equal. I am their better," because apparently racism is a key part of his coolness vibe. If anywhere in the book Magers exhibited a strong eye for self-criticism, I might forgive these as contextual clues toward a coming self-discovery. I can't do this, though, because there is no context anywhere in Magers' book. In "In the falafel place with Tamaki to meet," he writes
Tamaki introduces me as her brother and then grabs my junk.
I have no idea what these kids are talking about.
Lacan and baby food.
Girls that could fit in the crook of my arm. They take me
to their dorm, and I buy them two backpacks of beer,
and the boys and me play Wisest Wizard.
It's like Frank O'Hara minus the self-awareness, or like Ryu Murakami without the coherence or originality. If it weren't for the rampant racism, sexism, or ableism, this might have been a cute postmodern incoherency. However, because the book offers nothing but a disjointed account of Magers ennui-fueled party times, it's hard to overlook his ignorance.