Review of David Meiklejohn’s Plots by Travis Catsull
David Meiklejohn moved to Austin, TX for a specific reason: to write a book and not tell you about it. Effing Press sent Meiklejohn’s Plots shuffling out into the small press scene in early 2005, and for some reason it hasn’t received the recognition I think it deserves. I’ve managed small press bookstores, reviewed and read many chapbooks by old and new authors and last year, this book was by far my favorite of them all. Actually, I’m going to go ahead and call it the best chapbook of 2005.
I don’t know where David is now, but I’ve decided Plots is a book for those who think too much, for those who are summoned when a phrase like “relatives at night” is tossed flippantly into the perfect place. All along I’ve felt like saying this is a coming-of-age collection of thoughts and stories to intrigue, warp and entertain. A list of what you’ve done, are doing and are likely going to do unfolds and folds back up on a backbone of general insight. While Plots starts out in a time of curious youth, it quickly moves into psychic truths and hurls into a section called “This Belongs To You.” I started to feel the horror of Meiklejohn’s mind here. It’s a bit scary when a barrage of backyard death, dark pregnancy and stabbing and stabbing suddenly jumps into the driver’s seat and careens across burnt punch lines and tombstone fingers.
The snapshot stories continue as their plots reappear in unexpected places. I think there are some people that would call this book surreal or strange, but that just isn’t the case. David’s writing is finely lifted from all-too-common circumstances. Daily interaction is where David’s secrets sleep and each image propels a new image into the distance. What I’m saying is, David’s unique modes of thought and vision race through the page so cleverly it’s difficult not to think about this person as someone you’ve stood in line with, worked with, dated or conversed idly with. This book is scary, soft and too short. It’s something you’ll wish you would have written, but above all, it’s the first great chapbook to come from Effing Press and the best thing I read all year.
Effing Press, 2004
41 ppg., saddle stitched