thechapbookreview

Before I Moved to Nevada, by James Iredell

Before I Moved to NevadaBefore I Moved to Nevada

By James Iredell
Publishing Genius, 2009
$4.00

Reviewed by Matt DeBenedictis

On the cover is a deer. Look at it. It gazes as if knowing the chapbook Before I Moved to Nevada falls under its shadow. On the first page is a bear constructed out of words. Look at it. It’s in a kitchen, but no chaos comes to anyone. Here James Iredell’s words are not ones of current action but of the past and breathe more space into the wide-open recollections of a small town, its sheriff, and local football teams.

Each page is tightly woven; James knows how to pull and stretch words, getting the most out of them without leaving them dry, chapped, hurting, and left to be pitied from overuse. He lets the words and stories unfold like the sky pushing the clouds away from each other. They have to live on their own. For instance, a character recalls, “Ike would end up dumping my sister, and I would want to beat him like any guy named Ike deserves to be pummeled. Eventually, though, I forgot about it. Until now.” Until Now is the pace, the stamina of Before I Moved to Nevada’s words. An almost forgotten life is revisited through geographical imagery where there is no talk of concrete, but the bitterness birthed in the city does make its way in the recollection making chilling lines like, “The creek had once slithered with brook trout. But they built hotels upstream. Instead of trout there are tourists, which are almost the same thing.”

This bitterness wrapped in the past comes from the rest of the narrator’s journey that ends in the chapbook Atlanta (there is a second part of the story coming out via Grey Ghost at some point in the future). By the time the narrator makes it to Atlanta, life is different: there is no open sky, no bears in kitchen, no cabin; just regrets, mistakes, and lots of things to delight in, of the illegal and illicit variety. (And let me say, Atlanta contains the truest description of the famed Claremont Lounge where the strippers are the “senior citizen wing of the Betty Ford Clinic.”)

In Before I Moved to Nevada, James Iredell shows his command of word craft. There is bitterness, there is regret, but it is all something to be cherished in the dwelled thoughts of a simpler time: before the skyline became filled with buildings, where no clouds point the way during the day and no stars sing at night.

Consume the words of James Iredell’s outside. If you opt for the digital chapbook, take your computer outside. True air is needed to surround each sentence and carry them to you.

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