“Between Eden and the Open Road” by Philip Gaber

“Between Eden and the Open Road” by Philip Gaber is a collection of contemporary poetry and stories.

Gaber wrote these pieces apparently while ignoring classical literature boundaries. There are some stories, some poems, and some hybrids (combination of poetry and prose). All the titles are lower case, in the style of the poet e.e. cummings. The works are all non-traditional formats.

A lot of pieces read like they are exercises in sarcasm; some are downright sardonic. There are witty and funny moments:

“He was the Monday morning of human beings.”

“I was looking for healing, so I drove to a house of ill-repute.”

“Blew into town like a reputable vagrant….with…. a quarter of a chip still left on my shoulder….”

Some lines are downright strange: “Ursula’s still exfoliating quiet hysteria from her pores…” Some lines are cryptic: “That’s the price you pay for living the life of the oblique mystic minstrel.”

Some stories, though very short, are divided by Roman numerals: I, II, III, etc.

The section entitled, “the dust of everyday life” is about someone named Picasso. Is this a true story? Is it a story based on an anecdote the author heard? It seems so. The section entitled “to leave the consideration of the self behind” might also be about or be a vague reference to someone famous that the author knows.

There are no classic elements here: no metaphors, no Shakespearean influences, no flowery phrases. The writing is short and blunt; the longest piece is five pages. The imagery is stark. Some pieces seem dreamlike. There is not necessarily a beginning middle and end to each piece—or to the whole collection. The closest thing to a conclusion is the section “my humbug,” which might suggest the author’s intentions—if there are any. But its placement at the third-to-last entry suggests otherwise.

If you see this type of writing as free expression, then it really is a pure form of art. If you enjoy reading contemporary literature that seems more like flows of thought than structured story, “Between Eden and the Open Road” is for you.

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