So Much Synth first caught my eye back in April with its dynamic last line of the introducing poem titled, I Have a Time Machine: “the past is so horribly fast.” I hurried on to request it from the publisher (Copper Canyon Press); and was beyond ecstatic and grateful when my copy finally arrived in my hands at the start of this month.Subversions of idiom and cliché punctuate Shaughnessy’s fourth collection as she approaches middle age and revisits the memories, romances, and music of adolescence. So Much Synth is a brave and ferocious collection composed of equal parts femininity, pain, pleasure, and synthesizer. While Shaughnessy tenderly winces at her youthful excesses, we humbly catch glimpses of our own.
Though I caught myself feeling a bit over-my-head with some poems at the start, the pace and momentum returned with the piece “Is There Something I Should Know?,” which at a whopping 30 pages never lost me for even one sentence. It succeeds immensely in capturing numerous themes of adolescence over the course of time, including periods (“blood and mess and cramps and hormones”), Judy Blume, books, angst, anxiety, catcalling, body-image and more.
On that note, I think it’s best now if I let the words and pieces speak for themselves with these quote excerpts:
“Adolescence is all absolutes: if bad, one must be the very worst
to avoid being mistaken for average.”
“I’d hide and lose and seek and find myself in every page:
laughing, rereading and then re-rereading out loud, disbelieving the details till my system could absorb them like the nutrients they were.”
“I’m not even sure anything happened to me.
Or to whom everything happened.”
And the fact that I read “Oh god, is there any music as good as what you heard
at fourteen?” the day I rediscovered this emo band I used to listen to at exactly that age was astronomical for me. [gets war flashbacks from the emo days]
I think it goes without saying that So Much Synth was not only beautiful and raw but “real and aware of pain.” And I’m eager to continue on with Shaughnessy’s past and future works.
ARC kindly provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
Expected publication: October 10th, 2017