McNair acknowledges a deep stylistic debt to Charles Bukowski, a towering figure among poetically inclined barflies, even naming a poem “Channeling Bukowski.” As in Bukowski’s work, McNair’s speakers have healthy egos, declaring “The poet is best when he is most godlike” or “I am Iron Man.” Like bravado-laden hip hop or heavy metal, the machismo of McNair’s narrators works best when the reader feels invited to pump their fist right alongside them. Yet the emotional pendulum swings every few pages to self-loathing, with despairing lines like “I need to quit— / the writing, not the boozing.” These dueling impulses make for a compelling tension.
McNair declares that this collection is “written by a man for men.” Titles like “An Ode to Tits” or “Whiskey Dick” will satisfy some readers’ cravings for transgressive bodily humor and candor, but will no doubt offend others. The poems relish this divergence, the stark division between love and hate, often for the same person or action. McNair’s speakers yearn to capture a wide range of experience, “a million good choices / wiped clean with the dirty rag of living.”
Takeaway: This collection of raunchy but imagistic poems will appeal to young readers with a taste for the blue.
Great for fans of: On Drinking by Charles Bukowski, I Hope They Serve Beer in Hell by Tucker Max.
Design and typography: A-
Marketing copy: A