An Intricate Dance of Objects and Words: A Review of Left Glove by Mac Wellman

29 Sep

Solid Objects is shaping up to be a solid and lively new small press. Their first offering, Master of Miniatures, was a gorgeous and poignant Jim Shepard novella about the special effects wizard at Toho Studios during the heyday of the Gojira (Godzilla) films.

Their second offering shares the same eclectic vibe but is a unique creature in its own right. The play-as-poem-as-wordlove by Mac Wellman, Left Glove, is a spirited sprint through the adventure of a single glove, lost and then found. Wellman proves, with deft wordplay and tongue-in-cheek seriousness, that objects can be stars in a universal drama. He uses acrobatic sentences, chants, poetry, singsong, and a Greek chorus (of gloves, of course) to nimbly dance us over the chasm between object and soul, between person, place, and thing. He proves that objects can be funny, fun, and quite serious in their inherent meaning.

Or, to put it another way: This is the proper and fitting version of that dull plastic bag dance in American Beauty that people who’d apparently never thought about anything (A plastic bag can dance! O my eternal soul!) touted as the deepest thing they’d ever seen. This is a truer, wiser, funnier ode to lost things, to the power of the object as projection and also somehow as a rejection of projection. For we are told that Yamaha Nazimova, the loser of the glove, is a person:

of whom
Nothing is known. Not where she comes
From. Not where she goes. Not what she
Does if anything she doth. Her said character
A mystery. Likewise the place of her birth.
Age, status, comportment, and deportment

The same is true of the finder of the lost left glove, a certain Jewel Beckett, of which we are told:

Not a stitch of Jewel Beckett is known to the rest;
Not a stitch of Jewel Beckett: not her height, not her weight,
Nor the meaning of her mysterious name;
Not a stitch of Jewel Beckett is a matter to bother;
Not a stitch of Jewel Beckett is a matter to care;

Of course, in a way this intentional, repetitive anonymity suggests a glaring absence, a person alienated and more truly lost than our glove. The glove, at least, is promised a mate, for there is always a Right Glove out there in the universe. Indeed, we get a rich, strange life woven around our titular left glove. Our glove is praised, disparaged, prophesied over, made to pass through trials, and finally given a happy ending of sorts. Metaphysical discussion, parody, and play circle throughout the telling. Indeed, a play this fanciful and fun could only have been written by a longtime playwright, someone who has an ear for the music of language and how it works both on the page and on the stage. Corporate speak and choral speak and pop-culture speak are scattered throughout and soaked in the surreal images that make up Left Glove.

Did I mention the book itself is an object of art? Did I mention you should absolutely read this book? Because you should and moreover, if you want to get the most out of it, read it aloud. Grab a few friends and a few copies and a big bottle of bourbon and spend the night dancing among the words in Mac Wellman’s lovely meditation on the universe of lost people and things.

Left Glove, by Mac Wellman, is published by Solid Objects, and is available at SPD for purchase.

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