"The best way to write myself out of the project was to overwrite my own biography. I mean, who is this 'I' anyway?"
John Reed has been writing hard-to-classify books for over a decade, to great acclaim and sometimes greater notoriety. His novel Snowball's Chance was a blistering and controversial sequel of sorts to Orwell's Animal Farm that culminated with a 9/11-like attack on two windmills. Jonathan Ames called it "scary" and "engrossing," as well as a "sustained triumph." Reed's novel The Whole was a satire inspired by his relationship with a certain MTV VJ and was published, bravely, by MTV Books. My favorite is the aptly titled Tales of Woe, a grim collection of tragic accounts from around the globe. Fictionaut said the stories were "without any redeeming character whatsoever—just bleak, bleak, unremitting, and undeserved." In truth, they actually loved the collection.
Reed is a real New York City character—mysterious yet completely accessible, old-school but cutting-edge. A few years ago, he started sharing some newly written sonnets on Facebook. Although they were largely about love, or desire, they weren't really fit for readers looking for happy-ever-after scenarios. Many ended with a narrator seemingly suspended above a great metaphorical chasm, either about to descend into oblivion or ascend to something sublime. Reed collected these sonnets and others in his latest project, Free Boat: Collected Lies and Love Poems, out now from C&R Press. And, since no book of Reed's is written without adding a "remix" (a term often used by reviewers to describe his writing), he added something strange throughout—a semi-autobiographical letter to guide the reader through all the poems. Sometimes this letter is addressed to Reed's current or former wife, sometimes it's addressed to his literary agent, and sometimes it's directed to the reader. In these, he goes from childhood to adulthood, to a decadent period spent in Cuba, then to the present moment. It contains mug shots of multiple "John Reeds" from around the country, as well as pictures of people Reed identifies as family members. This may be the closest thing to a memoir he'll ever produce.[ Read More ]