Before, During & After

Book Reviews | Mar 3rd, 2007

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Author: Hal Sirowitz
Publisher: Soft Skull
Genre: Poetry
Pages: 124
Retail Price: 9.99
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If you’re not familiar with the poetry of Hal Sirowitz, just imagine Woody Allen doing spoken word. His poems are invariably short one-sided conversation tidbits, usually a third person berating or critiquing the author. In typical nebbish humor, the speaker in his last two books, his parents (Mother Said) and his therapist (My Therapist Said) point out in sharp, clever ways all the fallacies and neuroses of Hal Sirowitz. In his latest book of poems, his exes get their turn.

Divided in chapters of before, during, after, and later (sex, of course, being the theme), the poems chronicle Hal’s misadventures in the realm of physical relationships, in a “she said” format. These poems are enjoyable and breezy, like a light joke, but few are as clever or original as his previous works. The payoff of these “she said” poems tend to be dated punchlines that feel more like man-woman relationship clichs than anything confessional or insightful: Hal the Everyman is horny, likes to have a lot of sex, doesn’t like to cuddle or leave the apartment, and is a commitmentphobe; his exes like to cuddle, have conversations, travel and do things of a nonsexual nature, and be in a committed relationship. Although what makes Sirowitz’s poems appealing is that most people can relate to them, this new set, I feel, turns the complexities of relationships into a one-dimensional gag.

Fortunately, Sirowitz is bringing it all back home in his next book, Father Said. Even if it’s the same format, and his “father” seems like everyone’s father, hopefully it’ll be more inspired than the “she said” poems. In any case, you know they’ll still be fun to read in the usual Sirowitz style.

Bottom Line: The usual nebbishy self-loathing, but this time it’s uninspired.
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