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Fantasy

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Ben Fama’s Fantasy operates in a world of Internet, glamor, and lonely 21st century adulthood, through various other sorts of intimacies that happen through global production. Fama’s language and affect flatten desire while they maintain a tone of struggle and longing. Fantasy works at the question of how to spend time while alive in a humanity close to burnout, where the Ben Fama’s Fantasy operates in a world of Internet, glamor, and lonely 21st century adulthood, through various other sorts of intimacies that happen through global production. Fama’s language and affect flatten desire while they maintain a tone of struggle and longing. Fantasy works at the question of how to spend time while alive in a humanity close to burnout, where the value of one’s own labor is as inconclusive as the profits of intimacy. The need for things butts up against the living nihilism of late capitalism.


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Ben Fama’s Fantasy operates in a world of Internet, glamor, and lonely 21st century adulthood, through various other sorts of intimacies that happen through global production. Fama’s language and affect flatten desire while they maintain a tone of struggle and longing. Fantasy works at the question of how to spend time while alive in a humanity close to burnout, where the Ben Fama’s Fantasy operates in a world of Internet, glamor, and lonely 21st century adulthood, through various other sorts of intimacies that happen through global production. Fama’s language and affect flatten desire while they maintain a tone of struggle and longing. Fantasy works at the question of how to spend time while alive in a humanity close to burnout, where the value of one’s own labor is as inconclusive as the profits of intimacy. The need for things butts up against the living nihilism of late capitalism.

30 review for Fantasy

  1. 4 out of 5

    Dennis Sweeney

    I read this book during a snowshoeing trip in the San Juan Mountains, which made a weird kind of sense. The pages are smeared a little with charcoal from the wood fire. It felt good to read pop culture while away from it. It was like when I came back from the trip, I was coming back to something different.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Ben

    good work ben

  3. 5 out of 5

    James Payne

    A great book, in the same zone as Monica McClure's and Andrew Durbin's style/tone/voicing. However, I found I was less enthused as I spent more time with the book. Often the line-turns border on non-sequitor, and the repetition of luxury items only holds as a critique of luxury in one's mind for so long. Some of the shorter poems "Normsy" and "The Line of Beauty" don't seem to add much; neither, really do the overt Frank O'Hara call-outs - the book itself serves as a Frank O'Hara call-out w/o A great book, in the same zone as Monica McClure's and Andrew Durbin's style/tone/voicing. However, I found I was less enthused as I spent more time with the book. Often the line-turns border on non-sequitor, and the repetition of luxury items only holds as a critique of luxury in one's mind for so long. Some of the shorter poems "Normsy" and "The Line of Beauty" don't seem to add much; neither, really do the overt Frank O'Hara call-outs - the book itself serves as a Frank O'Hara call-out w/o having to say it explicitly. And I prefer Joshua Clover's version of O'Hara in The Red Epic, for instance - something about the urbanite observer sophisticate mode in its form here feels deadening instead of enlivening - but that's the city now, so perhaps it makes sense. But regardless of these minor quibbles, there are more than enough sections and one-liners that will stop the reader in admiration: "I'm going to miss you when you rebrand." "Soak a sugar cube in bitters And place it in a glass Fill the glass with champagne The decade happens" "I think the invention of the alcoholic energy drink Sparks Was the event that launched the 21st Century Not 9/11" "I know you about 3%" On the other hand, writing poems about Twin Peaks and Dev Hynes seem a bit too gimme / playing to the crowd. But I am the crowd: I like Twin Peaks and Dev Hynes, and I like this book.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Nom Chompsky

    This book is really beautifully designed. A great cover. Feels good in the hands. The opening poem is a strong choice for the front end of the book. I was really mourning Ashbery longer than I thought I would, and this worry Fama's speaker expresses about missing Ashbery when he rebrands cuts pretty deep, orients it against this petty material question of brand—which is its own mess amongst my younger poet pals, all determined to stay as 'on-brand' as possible on twitter and in poetry (the This book is really beautifully designed. A great cover. Feels good in the hands. The opening poem is a strong choice for the front end of the book. I was really mourning Ashbery longer than I thought I would, and this worry Fama's speaker expresses about missing Ashbery when he rebrands cuts pretty deep, orients it against this petty material question of brand—which is its own mess amongst my younger poet pals, all determined to stay as 'on-brand' as possible on twitter and in poetry (the material slipping between these two realms seamlessly, for the most part)—and it's the kind of gag I suspect Ashbery would have appreciated. Always strange to consider how a poem can rot or bloom when someone inside it changes too. I think Fama might be most intriguing when he's talking about people actually. Specific people. Specific things. The poem "Pearl Lakes" is my favourite from the collection, once again more relevant now than it probably was when it was written (or maybe that's too unkind, maybe it's just relevant in a 'different' way now), talking about how a poem about twin peaks is made better by twin peaks being its own poem, and reminding us about the Hayward sibling's own contribution. This poem feels almost like David Antin's talk poems on culture, and I wish that Fama had that control, and was willing to go further with the conversation tone than he does. This conversational tone actually often makes me question whether or not this is really very much poetry—though the questioning is not in a defamiliarizing way, or in a way that signifies Fama has changed the rules of poetry. I get the same numb feeling from this materialist list-game as I do reading something like American Psycho. There's not even a thrill in the alcohol and drug use here. When Koestenbaum asks how "Fama invent[ed] a tone so perfect and icy, so equal to our times" on the back of the book, what tone is he referring to? The dial tone of a call that Fama never commits to making? It's an absence, something that isn't invested enough in any metaphysical contemplation, craft, or play to prove valuable to a reader, and it's difficult to tell if it's a poor attempt to remain cool and aloof, or something deliberately ironic, or something just, meh. I don't know if saying this is useful or not, but here I am, saying it anyways: I expected more from this book because I've followed Fama on twitter for some time and they seemed much more intelligent, funny, cultured and engaged than this collection. There's more poetic engagement with O'Hara in a theoretical text like "Cruising Utopia" than there is in Fama's own poem, "Frank O'Hara." Perhaps it's unfair to compare a theory text that looks at (loosely) optimism, at living lives and imagining worlds where we might yet thrive, versus Fama's offering that is so "icy," "a book about an end" where everyone's plan is to "keep showing up to work stoned," (the latter two from Spahr's back blurb). Maybe the comparison is unnecessary altogether? I don't think so, though. In fact, it's just rendering O'Hara a footnote, an intellectual commodity, a name-drop; poetry can do better than this. I'm not asking for Fama to give me a plot summary of which Maya Deren film he's watching, but I'd like to know something other than the speaker called in sick to work after getting stoned and watching Deren's work. Some premises excited me, "1280 x 768, 60HZ" was exciting initially, because it harkened back to DFW (whose thoughts are relayed earlier in the book in the Twin Peaks poem I enjoy), to some of the scenario surveys that DFW used in "Brief Interviews With Hideous Men." The problem is here the facts don't seem to accumulate to a life. The survey doesn't chew on its own format to outline its boundaries, and the writing is not super-humanly elegant the way Wallace's always was. Wallace had many voices, and craft, and could describe anything to death. Fama's offering dips in and out of affected voices, from lackluster prose to poor metaphors: "a powerful affair, like birds caught in a thermal, from a very young age." It doesn't ever get to the realm of language-play, or into a storytelling voice. I'm not moved or upset or anything. The poems in this book are for the most part glancing right off of me, and I'm a very emotionally susceptible reader. If the detachment is intentional, what effect is it trying to produce? What effects can this kind of verse inspire? If it's not intentional, where is Fama failing to connect with the readers? It's hard to say. This book's poetics is eager to tell you that the speaker "[got] to read this poem in the garden / Of the Museum of Modern Art / At a Remembrance for Frank O'Hara / In the summer of 2008 / Even his sister was there, Maureen O'Hara?" This book's poetics doesn't care about O'Hara beyond a superficial note. I don't think Fama is revealing something horrid about our current condition. I don't think Fama is a conduit for weird cold truths to come to fruition. I think this reads like a first book that could've been greatly benefited by really strong editing by a poet who knows how to have fun with language, who knows how to maintain emotional stakes even with quotidian moments, with cultural ennui. Maybe I'll stick to reading Fama's tweets for now. They work better as one liners than most of the stuff seemingly arbitrarily assembled for "Fantasy." I'm sure this book will appeal to other young disenchanted poets who write from a distance and 'aren't afraid to bring pop culture and the material world' under the purview of their poetry that ultimately lacks craft AND conviction. I never thought I'd be bored to read anything with references to NYC, and I have Goldsmith's Capital sitting heavy and ugly on my bookshelf so I have a low bar.

  5. 4 out of 5

    niels

    A very current and fabulating read. Fame takes us to the very near reality to then obscure everything and play with us as readers. He makes pop cultural references, varies his style a lot and never stand still. This collection of poetry was very entertaining whilst clever made. i especially liked the title poem.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Jerrod

    Let's start with the cover: Stunning, and absolutely gorgeous. On the inside, the book is icy and smart, ironizing our current economic and political climate with a sharp eye for detail and nonsense vernacular.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Kyle Fitzpatrick

    This book taught me how to hate myself *and* bicoastal 2010s millennial poetry.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Jeremy

    There are so many types of luxury to be worshiped, person-handled or turned into designer water here. All beautiful, all sad, all worth exploring.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Chiara

    The world of Internet, hollywood stars and cyberspeak presented in Ben Fama’s debut creates a curious effect when employed as content and language for a poetry book. The New-York-City-surroundings of the author permeate every line and page of his poetic narration which both struggles and questions a trembling emotional awareness disturbed by trivial references and empowered by the first person perspective. The contemporary culture – hanging in the balance of its contradictory inconsistency – The world of Internet, hollywood stars and cyberspeak presented in Ben Fama’s debut creates a curious effect when employed as content and language for a poetry book. The New-York-City-surroundings of the author permeate every line and page of his poetic narration which both struggles and questions a trembling emotional awareness disturbed by trivial references and empowered by the first person perspective. The contemporary culture – hanging in the balance of its contradictory inconsistency – plays the role of the main topic and – at the same time – background of the poems; it is presented with an unsettling spontaneity which mesmerizes the reader, whom is unused to such a direct reflection of his everyday world into poetry. It is rare, even in contemporary literature, to run into a sharp 21st century adulthood’s chronicle which combine the taste of struggle for the global society to the evergreen human intimacy. Fama’s colloquial language of abbreviations, slang, social media references and texts expresses the controversial influence of technology in contemporary human interactions and highlights the absurdity of its features. His nonsense jargon represents a linguistic tool to ironize and ridicule the economic, social and political status quo. From multiples levels, the poems in Fantasy swiftly deal with a huge variety of apparently trivial subjects; the transition from a controversial self-esteem problem to a Teen Vogue reference is sudden and painless. On the other hand, this deceptive speed –which hides under an evanescent surface the real core of his contents – bears witness to the personal fight against the living nihilism of late capitalism. The poor use of punctuation and the alienating free associations of terms disturb the readers and remind them of the foolishness of a culture based on disposability. On the stylistic level, some inconsistencies are present in the author’s effort to sublimate the power of words in “The line of beauty”: his concise yet incoherent use of words disengages the readers rather than shock them and so, this crude poetic attempt fails to achieve the author’s desired outcome. Conversely, Fama’s declarations about the emotional state of contemporary society’s humans prove a deep understanding and sensibility typical of a classic poet. For instance, in the multi-part prose poem “1280 X 768, 60HZ” the irrational world of virtuality in relationships meets the ridiculous reality of a real life couple perturbed by imagination. His sharp eye for details and subtle sophistication hidden in the casual lexical choice, make his work a nice Christmas present wrapped in colorful, stained, second-hand paper. Under the blue of Facebook and the red of Tinder, Fama combines – in an unique way – the fluctuating ups and downs of intimate human introspection and superficiality, offering a faithful portrait of our reality.

  10. 5 out of 5

    André Habet

    Much of this book may not stand the test of time, but so what? These poems don't shy away from the moment they're emerging from, and Fama indulges in every interests throughout this. Favorites include Moët, Like, The Line of Beauty, and the amazing 1280 x 768.60 Hz (the last a poem that made Fama feel like kin to a future me).

  11. 4 out of 5

    Anton

    Got all the references.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Kent

  13. 4 out of 5

    Marcus

  14. 5 out of 5

    Kay Sorin

  15. 4 out of 5

    Katie Thompson

  16. 5 out of 5

    Katie Foster

  17. 4 out of 5

    Erica

  18. 5 out of 5

    Laura Theobald

  19. 4 out of 5

    Marissa

  20. 5 out of 5

    Katie

  21. 5 out of 5

    Emily Pettit

  22. 5 out of 5

    clumped

  23. 5 out of 5

    Cerys Holstege

  24. 4 out of 5

    Kelly

  25. 4 out of 5

    Catherine Pikula

  26. 5 out of 5

    Robert

  27. 4 out of 5

    Stuart

  28. 5 out of 5

    Isabel

  29. 5 out of 5

    Emma

  30. 4 out of 5

    Justin

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