Review of Michael K. Gause’s The Tequila Chronicles by Sarah Miller
Writing while drunk isn’t new, and writing about “writing while drunk” isn’t new, and writing about “writing about ‘writing while drunk’” isn’t new. And if I pursue that loop much farther, I’m going to need a drink.
Michael K. Gause’s The Tequila Chronicles: Spontaneous Moments Preserved in Alcohol is a collection of twelve prose/poem/prose poem pieces: one for each month, and a different drink for each. They are the outpourings of a clearly drunk narrator, one convinced he has found enlightenment (“I was so splitting with words, so full of the Flood of Life that my eyes were engorged to the crest of beauty.”) and the key to the ineffable (“It was only then that my sight was manifest and clouds parted, in me. My illumination became clear even to those around me.”). The narrator is utterly convinced of his insight, certain he has gone beyond his audience’s comprehension (“Modesty forbids saying that I am the one who learned to speak, but they met mutation with confusion and nervous laughter on all sides.”). But it isn’t the narrator’s enlightenment that draws the reader through the book—the narrator’s thoughts are as random and cryptic as you’d expect—it’s the narrator’s attitude.
At times the narrator is supremely confident in his voice: “O thund’rous Voice of Heaven, HEAR ME” in “April”; at other times, the narrator is tentative and reflective, searching for something he once had and has lost:
there’s no way to prove it,
but I know
The heart of the collection is the narrator’s psychological state, whether he is making grandiose claims about his insight or briefly sketching a scene for the reader. As a collection, the texts offer a few narrative threads: a street lamp appears and disappears, enlightenment is constantly sought, the narrator is clearly struggling to understand how drinking has affected his life, writing or otherwise. There is no resolution. The narrator does not rise above drinking and condemn it, nor does he finish with a euphoric celebration of Bacchus.
Gause’s text intersperses drunken mundaneness with unexpected expressions or turns in the narratives, saving this chapbook from itself. The texts are fluid and do not dwell too long on any one topic, allowing the reader to dwell on the ones that are most interesting and skip quickly over any that threaten to bog down the pace. Tequila Chronicles is self-published by Gause and can be ordered through his website; it’s enjoyable and well worth the read.
Available from www.tequilachronicles.com