David Ohle’s Those Bones Reviewed by Tobias Carroll

Those Bones

By David Ohle

Mud Luscious Press


ISBN13: 9781161669053
ISBN10: 1161669051

Reviewed by Tobias Carroll

David Ohle’s Those Bones is billed as “excerpts from a memoir,” but the brief images of New Orleans he reveals here achieve a mournful resonance on their own. “I was born in New Orleans & lived there until I was twenty one,” Ohle’s account begins; what follows are short vignettes, New Orleans considered from multiple vantage points. We’re offered a glimpse of Ohle’s family history, short accounts of previous disasters to befall the city in question, and, in the chapbook’s early pages, tragedy at a forced remove: after Hurricane Katrina, Ohle, looking through Google Earth’s window, seeks his “old familiar places”.

Katrina’s devastation and its aftermath echo through all of the scenes depicted here, whether set in 2005 or 1947. These accounts are short, sometimes taking up less than a full page, and at first I found them their settings somewhat arbitrary. Was Ohle, I wondered, mirroring a post-Katrina dislocation through this fragmentation? And slowly, patterns emerged, and the brief doses of history flowed towards it inexorable conclusion, namely, the image that gives this book its title. It might suffice to say that Ohle closes this work by reminding us that the natural world can outdo any surrealist in terms of an ability to create unsettling images.

The amount of detail Ohle fits into Those Bones is impressive: primers in hurricane history, memories of a century of New Orleans life, and sudden, searing images, from drinking beer while storms rage to livestock drowned and displaced by the same wind and rain. But in the end, what this short work does most powerfully is provide an intimate perspective on a national tragedy. Ohle’s own dramatic play of memory sustains itself neatly across these pages, all of them infused with the pain of separation, geographically, from a city he loves.

  1. […] A little while ago, I linked to my review of David Ohle’s chapbook Those Bones. […]

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