Under the idyllic and pastoral cover, The Stranger Manual by Catie Rosemurgy is a creepy little book of poems. It juxtaposes the realities of grotesque and pretty: of comic and disturbing. While this seems alarming, it may not be a bad thing. Miss Peach, an ever-appearing character in the verses, is as compelling as Miss Havisham, and just as eccentric.
I had time to consider the ever-so-slightly corrupt taste of your freshly cleaned armpits.
I was always feverish to pry the full smell of you back open. Perhaps stink,
in our antiseptic culture.”
The idea of transformation is a binding factor. Along with the many personas of Miss Peach, Rosemurgy also taps into the natural environment with its many-changing seasons.
A man looks good pushing against the air
and is a winter fruit.
A woman looks good rounding out the flat light
and is a summer fruit. Goodbye and hello
to all I haven't eaten.”
Rosemurgy presents us with an intoxicating book of poems that asks the reader 'Who is Miss Peach?' This question will drive you crazy, because she is everybody and nobody. The times when Miss Peach is not on the page, the reader can't help but wonder what she is up to next.
The main problem is when someone looks at her:
it's like being born and then born and then born
but never being able to take her first breath.
She asked if I was committed to my current system of breathing.”
The pieces have a youthful, just-finished-college tarnish to them. Try as Rosemurgy might to be dismal and introspective, there is an untapped, na?ve, enthusiasm that won't let her get too deep and this creates some interesting pieces. These poems are wacked out and brimming with energy. The Stranger Manual gives us fair warning of the truly twisted personalities out there, especially Miss Peach.