The Möbius strip club of grief

Bianca Stone

Book - 2018

The Möbius Strip Club of Grief is a collection of poems that take place in a burlesque purgatory where the living pay--dearly, with both money and conscience--to watch the dead perform scandalous acts otherwise unseen: "$20 for five minutes. I'll hold your hand in my own," one ghost says. "I'll tell you you were good to me." Like Dante before her, Stone positions herself as the living poet passing through and observing the land of the dead. She imagines a feminist Limbo where women run the show and create a space to navigate the difficulties endured in life. With a nod to her grandmother Ruth Stone's poem "The Mobius Strip of Grief," Stone creates a labyrinthine underworld as a way to confront a...nd investigate complicated family relationships in the hopes of breaking the never-ending cycle of grief. --Publisher.

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Location Call Number   Status
2nd Floor 811.6/Stone Checked In
Portland, Oregon ; Brooklyn, New York : Tin House Books 2018.
Main Author
Bianca Stone (author)
First U.S. edition
Physical Description
104 pages ; 22 cm
Includes bibliographical references (page 103-104).
  • [Odin plucked out his eye in exchange for a drink]
  • I.
  • Introduction
  • Medieval
  • Last Words
  • Lap Dance
  • A Brief Topography of the MSCOG
  • The Murder
  • Client
  • Mama-san
  • Hunter
  • All the Single Mothers
  • Honeybee
  • Emily Dickinson
  • Math
  • I Am Unfaithful to You with My Genius
  • II.
  • Making Applesauce with My Dead Grandmother
  • How Not
  • Interior Design
  • Flight
  • The Reading
  • Self-Destruction Sequence
  • Stenographer
  • Elegy with a Swear Word
  • Cliff Elegy
  • The Fates
  • Dear Sister
  • The Gang Elegy
  • Blue Jays
  • Ones Who Got Away with It
  • Letter to a Letter to the Editors
  • The Green Word
  • Migration
  • Retreating Knights and Riderless Horses, or Poem with Another Poem Halfway Through It
  • The Fall
  • The Woman Downstairs
  • The Walking Dead
  • The Lit Club Slaughter
  • In the Champagne Room with Grandma
  • Elegy with Clothes
  • I'll Be Happy
  • Historic Flaws
  • The Dark Ages, Revisited
  • Bibliography
Review by New York Times Review

Family cycles of grief and trauma are this book's dominant theme; Stone's exploration is Hieronymus Boschlike : blithely cluttered, compellingly repellent. Adding "Club" to her grandmother Ruth Stone's poem title "The Möbius Strip of Grief," Stone acts as guide to an underworld burlesque: "If you want the skinny ones we got skeletons cracking round those poles. And over at the bar - there's Grandma, with her breasts hanging at her stomach." The concept works best when spectacle leaves space for perception of human plight. In "Lap Dance" a stripper/dead-relative says "$20 for five minutes; / I'll hold your hand in my own. I'll tell you / you were good to me." Stone's imagery can be strained and random. Wrens' chirps "rained like sparks / from the electric saws in their hearts." But what about a living heart's lubdub suggests electric saw? The strip club dead have "vitamins dissolving like milk / under tongues." Milk doesn't dissolve; it's already liquid. Slapdash vagueness undermines this energetic book's purgatory of female pain. Stone's best poems depend less on the title joke while staying thematically consistent. In "Making Applesauce With My Dead Grandmother," the speaker dramatizes herself into a domestic scene with corpse-Grandma, who makes the house smell "of cinnamon and dust" and cuts worms from green apples, "throwing them back into the ground / right where her body should be." Here, surrealism works better, all weird precision, a simplicity to its part-reality, part-dream. Relaxing high concept, Stone clarifies and intensifies her vision, giving her poems and readers room to feel.

Copyright (c) The New York Times Company [July 8, 2018]
Review by Booklist Review

Drawing inspiration from her grandmother Ruth Stone's 2008 poem, The Möbius Strip of Grief, visual artist and editor Stone (Someone Else's Wedding Vows, 2014) follows grief and its many manifestations through a salacious, serpentine strip-club underworld. There are disco balls and DJs, lap dances and lament, and the living are often as damned as the dead. While Flight depicts a moment of devastating realization like a nun blushing all over for God I Am Unfaithful to You with My Genius delivers a neon-bright paean to female creators: we were already built / to write; born, ourselves, a loaded gun. Elsewhere, Stone spotlights loved ones, the hoarders of my blood, and relationships trying and triumphant. In the magnificent, 13-part, Dickinson-inspired Blue Jays, for example, the poet celebrates and grieves a mother consumed by sorrow. In one final elegy, Stone imagines the world as a wolf tied to a flower. With bared teeth and gleaming, otherworldly wonders, this image can also describe Stone's sharply observed, wryly playful, and fiercely defiant collection.--Shemroske, Briana Copyright 2018 Booklist

From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission.
Review by Publisher's Weekly Review

Balancing a confessional voice with humor and portentous imagery, Stone (Poetry Comics from the Book of Hours) explores grief, familial connection, and the small things that sustain life in her startling third collection. Readers encounter feuds with Anne Sexton's nieces and a hereafter where the dead perform for the living. But Stone's great achievements are two sequences that share an awed admiration for the female mind. The first, "I am Unfaithful to You with My Genius," is an ode to women writers and their "demon of genius-mad genius," inspiring the poet to devotion: "like Antigone I would ruin myself for you." The second, "Blue Jays," pays homage to the poet's mother, and by extension all women ("Mothers are all I have ever known"). Stone captures her mother's eccentricities and burdens with heartbreaking clarity: "your genius trapped like a moth on the screened-in porch of your pain." The book ends in a somber elegy for America-"I feel the phantom limbs of my predecessors/ waving in the air," Stone writes-putting an exclamation point on a collection that features a bravely vulnerable beating heart hidden beneath layers of irony and clever misdirection. Stone is the child of her muses, Sexton and Emily Dickinson, and it is an odd but delightful union. (Feb.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved