BOOK REVIEW #1 Alexander Dickow, Appetites

Alexander Dickow, Appetites – BOOK REVIEW #1

Alexander Dickow once told us “The freer the better, as far as I’m concerned; the freer the literature is, the richer literature is”. You’re in for a tasty ride with Appetites. Associate Professor of French at Virginia Tech, Director of the Cahiers Max Jacob and Communications Manager of Asymptote, Alexander Dickow delights us today.


Poetry lovers know this well : the eyes and the soul of the poet have little equal when it comes to retranscribe the world. The most interesting reality about Appetites is that the observations Alexander has of himself and of the world have multiple dimensions : some poems have an agreeable sense of surface and common reality (as in Grace), some are well-executed (and digested) contemplations (as in Abstract Meal), and some others -the most abundant- are even introspective (as in Far Afield and Open Secret). Paradoxically, This blend makes the book breathe, and no mixed emotions would render any sense of embarrassment of the heart, leaving far behind the urge of rushed and awkward classification. The different poems directly talk to the reader’s past and present, but even the most personal thoughts or statements can be relatable to the conscious and the conscientious.


We might have used this reference before, but life is to be lived, not agreed with, as Kate Tempest sings. Appetites is a visuel ballet of sounds, of smells, of tastes. In other words, Appetites is a visual ballet of life in its entirety. At first reading, and in its darkest corners, Appetites could appear to be the digest of uncontrollable feelings and suffered situations. The torments of life are not to be seen here as a fatality, but as an occasion to submerge in the most abstract ways to survive.

Dishes put aside, this excerpt of Ground Rules illustrates perfectly well the author’s refusal of the follies of modern dullness:

Talk please and thank you always

Wait upon your turn.

While the spectacle has completed,

Make your way an orderly

Fashion down the exit

From your left.


Religion, love and sex are not omnipresent of the book, and their diluted presence is more enriching than uncomfortable. Bodies and beliefs, regrets and victories, sin and virtue, no articulation would keep you from thinking that everything is in its right place. Appetites is an organized smorgasboard and you should over read it.

Broaden your horizons and give yourself more reasons to embrace Alexander’s work: read Linda Rijel’s review for The Blunt Post. And, of course, purchase your one way ticket to the land of the hungry sated on Amazon US or Amazon FR !

Written by Marc Louis-Boyard for Slow Culture. Alexander also appears on this post, and on this one.

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