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Railroad to Nowhere

By G.S. Williams, author of No Man An Island

Nov 27, 2008: "Railroad to Heaven" is ostensibly the diary of a former railroad employee, circa 1963, after some sort of mental breakdown.

"Arnold Schnabel" is supposed to become a historical figure, a great poet. But both the poetry and the prose leave much to be desired. Diary reading is dull in general, but here it’s worse, because the diarist mentions interesting things without ever showing scenes. Written at a remove from events, the text inevitably leaves me, as a reader, feeling emotionally removed from what’s happening.

The writing itself is best described by its own poetry:

People often ask me, “Where do you get
Your inspiration from, a brand new poem
Every week, fifty-two weeks a year yet?”
It’s really not so hard, or so I tell them,
Not so hard at all once the poet learns
That no one really cares how well he writes,
That it doesn’t matter if his spirit burns
Or hides like a dog through Byzantine nights;
This poet is incapable of writing well
Anyway, but even if he were, it still
Wouldn’t matter; very few of us can tell
The difference between ambrosia and swill.
And that’s okay; now he is ready to sing.
Nothing stands in his way; not a thing.

The author seems willing to keep swinging, which I can respect. However, thus far the text is closer to swill than ambrosia.

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