River Dead of Minneapolis Scavenged by Teens
New Carriage 2015
If you’re a reader, then you know the joy of discovering books. You also know that some of those discoveries stand out. Yes, there’s the pleasure of finding a good book. And there’s even those rare occasions where you find the right book: the right book at the right time in your life, the one that somehow shapes or bolsters who you are. And then there are those other moments, where the book you find feels more like you’ve uncovered a hidden gem. You’re Keats, on first looking into Chapman’s Homer, feeling “like stout Cortez” discovering a new world. In my case, the feeling resembles something less epic and more out of Indian Jones, as though, descending into the shelves of the Strand Bookstore in New York or Powell’s Books in Portland, I emerge with a lost treasure, a forgotten totem or relic. It’s a great feeling, one I love sharing with other readers.
And that was very much my experience with Mark Ehling‘s new collection, River Dead of Minneapolis Scavenged by Teens (New Carriage, 2015). Finding it was a matter of luck. I’d come across one of his pieces online months ago and I’d found both strange and compelling. And then a writer who knows us both invited us to speak about an emerging genre that she calls “the visual essay.” And, then, on the very weekend we spoke, after Ehling gave a performance of his work that was somehow hilarious and moving, I learned he was launching a new book. I immediately ordered a copy and I wasn’t not more than a few pages in before I heard that Indiana Jones theme resounding in my readerly brain. Ehling’s work is weird and rich and and intruguing and odd and wholly its own. And it’s a joy to say to readers like you: you have to check this out.