Inside the Ghost Factory is a book of appearances and disappearances, of heteroglossic visitations and uncanny lacunae. Transgressive, disputatious, and unflinchingly lyrical, the ghosts in these machines have come to spell and to dispel in equal measure. They are the stuff of the most extravagant and mysterious poetry that Norman Finkelstein has written thus far.
Praise for Inside the Ghost Factory
Inside the Ghost Factory finds Norman Finkelstein returning to his pre-Track fascination with the Coleridgean fancy, first delineated in Restless Messengers. Here, however, Samuel Coleridge meets William Gibson and the result is a retro Blakean myth for the age of Text and Tweet. These transmissions from “elsewhere,” manufactured on the assembly lines of “Ghosts, Incorporated. Poetry, Incorporated” (Limited, I might add), are gleefully dissected by Finkelstein as so much “clap-trap.” Still, there’s no correcting the blur of occultation and occlusion for the poet who believes “Books were made for secrets they cannot/keep: this is what it means to be/read.” Like any satirist worth his name (“How was/the service? Good, but the bread/kept turning into meat”), Finkelstein writes from a normative (near) theology secularized as the detritus of history: the prohibition against idolatry (“Do not look upon it.”) as the inculcation of hearing-as-seeing (“If you listen hard enough, you will see it.”). It’s an old trope, of course, one harder to appreciate amid the bedazzlement of spectacle, but there it is: a “Thesis,” for heaven’s sake, a position! And the dub version? ”The reader completes the circuit. Still//with me?” —Tyrone Williams
In the three volumes of his serial work Track and in its follow-up Scribe, Norman Finkelstein established himself master of an entrancing idiom of hieratic quest and questioning, of wanderings within history, philosophy, and scripture both secular and sacred. In the astonishing poems of Inside the Ghost Factory, Finkelstein has opened his pages up to a whole radio-dial’s worth of outside voices—dreaming voices, loving and hating voices, museum docent voices, voices on the verge of breakdown—all of them eloquently, lyrically, obliquely, and relentlessly murmuring answers to questions we had not thought to formulate. Who are these ghosts? “Is it the King? / No, just another ghost of answering questions.” One wanders through the pages of Ghost Factory, the voices echoing like a particularly garrulous catacomb, and marvels. This is a learned poetry, a sensitive poetry, a poetry of great risks—and breathtaking rewards, breathtaking intensity. “You’ve been listening to Radio Free Hell.” —Mark Scroggins
About the Author
Norman Finkelstein was born in New York City in 1954. He received his B.A. from Binghamton University and his Ph.D. from Emory University. He is a Professor of English at Xavier University in Cincinnati, Ohio, where he has lived since 1980. He is the author of eight books of poetry and five books of literary criticism, and has written extensively about modern poetry and Jewish literature. His most recent books are Scribe (Dos Madres Press, 2009) and On Mount Vision: Forms of the Sacred in Contemporary American Poetry (University of Iowa Press, 2010).
ISBN-13: 978-0-9841177-5-8 (pbk.)