ALT LIT SLOWPOKE REVIEWS: STEVE ROGGENBUCK’S “IF U DONT LOVE THE MOON, YOUR AN ASS HOLE”
It took me this long to get around to reviewing Steve Roggenbuck’s “If U Don’t Love The Moon, Your an Ass Hole”. I asked for this book for Christmas because he was too cheap & too busy during the year. Slowpokes don’t buy things very much but are kindly Pokemon who like to support favourite artists when it’s a special occasion.
This might be Steve Roggenbuck’s best book yet. “i am like October when i am dead” was solid but explored a limited aspect of Steve’s range. “CRUNK JUICE” established many elements of his brand but felt inconsistent. Flarf and earnest “YOLO” exhortations were thrown in together in ways that felt arbitrary, and neither were at their strongest in the often-isolated forms they took.
In “If U Dont Love The Moon, Your An Ass Hole”, all the components of Roggenbuck’s poetry are beaten into a sturdy alloy which fills the pages in solid prose poetry blocks. Like real solids, these are just a bunch of atoms milling around when you get down to it: pieces of absurd flarf, regular jokes, calls to look at the sky or moon and be a better person. I’m using this metaphor of structural solidity but a related one might be balance. Whenever the sincere stuff starts to get too maudlin or intense, Roggenbuck makes you laugh. Whenever the jokes start to feel too arch or meta, there’s something sincere to ground you. David Foster Wallace talked about combining irony and sincerity as a way to make people “buy” sincerity in an ironic age, but Roggenbuck seems to have gone beyond that. There’s nothing apologetic about his sincerity or his lightening of it, nothing that suggests he doesn’t expect you to take either completely at face value if it stood on its own (as it often did in the previous books). Instead they’re simply fused in equal parts into something more powerful, acknowledged as both necessary parts of some kind of an appreciation of life.
Meta Knight says a lot of the material is taken from his videos. I certainly recognized a lot of the lines but few entire poems seemed completely familiar. Maybe I need to refamiliarize myself with the entire corpus of videos, which is pretty large. This might take a while; I’m pretty slow. But it seems to me just as possible that Steve Roggenbuck is taking stuff he’s already done, stuff that’s new, and arranging it all in new ways. It’s remix poetry. Conceptualists have fucked around with this before but it’s rarely been this fun. When Roggenbuck does it it’s as fun as listening to an actual good DJ. Perhaps this isn’t surprising from the guy who calls himself the Skrillex of literature. (Which begs the question: is Tao Lin Deadmau5?)
Making a conceptual innovation like remix poetry work would be an accomplishment on its own but Roggenbuck does it on the side, while demonstrating the maturity of his already-existing style of work, which would also be an accomplishment on its own. Two big accomplishments in a book that can fit in your pocket. Damn. Steve Roggenbuck goes hard.