Review of Brian Oliu's SO YOU KNOW IT'S ME

Brian Oliu. Tiny Hardcore Press, $7 paperback (52p) ISBN: 9780983562504

I don’t want you to guess what I was drinking. I was drinking Earl Gray tea. I was drinking Earl Gray tea and I was reading Brian Oliu’s new book SO YOU KNOW IT’S ME when you and your strong lavender approached. You were wearing cut-off jean shorts. You had a thing in your hair, maybe chopsticks, scissored. You were squeezing a copy of a book about water. You had a funny look in your eyes, like your eyes were broken, dangling—maybe your eyes were cleaning windows on the skyscraper of you. I invited you to sit down, or at least I wanted to. I invited you to sit down and then I didn’t know what to say. I wanted to tell you how much I liked the book I was reading. I wanted to quote you things like this from FRIEND OF A FRIEND – FACEBOOK, TUSCALOOASA, AL M4W

“She was kind. She serves as a reminder to tell the ones that we love that we love them, that we needed her to die to be reminded of this, to think about saying these words one day when the stereo in the car is off or the meal we ordered is taking longer than usual to get to us. Yes—we must shove dead girls in our mouths, swallow them, have them speak for us by not speaking. I wish I knew you better. You will be missed.”

—tell you that sometimes writing can be wonderfully refreshing, that things, models, cultural forms emerge, and it’s our job to push ourselves into them, onto them, to use them, wear them like awesome suits. I wanted to tell you that this is what Brian Oliu has done with his book. He has made beautiful exploding confessions. He has made beautiful exploding repetitions. He’s spotlighted the pure heart of the desperate. And maybe you wanted to tell me about your book, too. Maybe you wanted to ask if I’d read it. The answer would’ve been: Yes. I like water. But we didn’t talk much. We didn’t talk at all. You read your book and I read mine. I thought about the poetry of Brian Oliu’s book, the perfection of change and loss. I wanted to choke more lines from the book onto your skin. I wanted to quote you this from TASKA LOSA – THE PARK AT MANDERSON LANDING M4W

“Here is a list of people who have drowned in the river: apple, bear, crush, dime, eagle, fire, fire, ghost, ghost, ghost, hair, iron, jab, kite, loss, lost, lose, me. Here is a list of what it sounded like when they were drowning: the rolling up of a car window when you know it is going to rain later that day, a gas-powered stove turning on in order to boil water for noodles, a hand feeling around an empty pocket.”

I finished my Earl Gray, and left. I stumbled into the parking lot, my nostrils clinging to your jasmine despite the hard cough of exhaust. I punched the sun on the cheek, thinking: They’ve done it again. They’ve gone and done it again. You disappeared behind the pages. I knew how to find you. (2011)

Purchase So You Know It's Me HERE.

Reviewer bio: Mel Bosworth is the author of the novel FREIGHT. Visit his website at