See Jim Bennett’s 5 star review of my poetry collection, Expectations, on Goodreads.
A poetry collection by
For Immediate Release
Expectations presents a bold new collection of poems from Gary Beck. His explorations of a ‘bankrupt civilization’ and society’s dependence on the cycle of consumerism make a reflective and at times uncomfortable read. Gary is unafraid to challenge us, our ingrained behaviors and our apathy as a society.
He conjures up the city effortlessly, the challenges young people face growing up in the modern world, bittersweet endings and new beginnings. This new collection examines the turbulence of life, in flight or otherwise.
“Simply wonderful!” Matt Evelsizer – Calliope Nerve
“His work stirs the emotions.” Bill Brocato – The Houston Literary Review
“Great imagery!” Joanne Olivieri – Ya’Sou!
Expectations is a 92 page poetry book available in paperback with a retail price of $10.99, ISBN 1911265679. Also in a Kindle version for $5.99. Published by Wordcatcher Publishing. Available now through all major retailers. For information or to request a review copy, contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
Gary Beck has spent most of his adult life as a theater director, and as an art dealer when he couldn’t make a living in theater. He has 12 published chapbooks and 2 accepted for publication. His poetry collections include: Days of Destruction (Skive Press), Expectations (Rogue Scholars Press). Dawn in Cities, Assault on Nature, Songs of a Clerk, Civilized Ways, Displays, Perceptions, Fault Lines, Tremors and Perturbations (Winter Goose Publishing) Rude Awakenings and The Remission of Order will be published by Winter Goose Publishing. Conditioned Response (Nazar Look). Resonance (Dreaming Big Publications). Virtual Living (Thurston Howl Publications). Blossoms of Decay (Wordcatcher Publishing). Blunt Force and Expectations will be published by Wordcatcher Publishing. His novels include: Extreme Change (Cogwheel Press), Flawed Connections (Black Rose Writing), Call to Valor (Gnome on Pigs Productions) and Sudden Conflicts (Lillicat Publishers). State of Rage will be published by Rainy Day Reads Publishing, Crumbling Ramparts by Gnome on Pigs Productions. His short story collections include, A Glimpse of Youth (Sweatshoppe Publications) and. Now I Accuse and other stories (Winter Goose Publishing). His original plays and translations of Moliere, Aristophanes and Sophocles have been produced Off Broadway. His poetry, fiction and essays have appeared in hundreds of literary magazines. He currently lives in New York City where he’ll be directing one of his plays.
See the review of my book “Now I Accuse” by Sheila Scobba Banning on Amazon
Relevant stories, in a straightforward style with elegant yet simple prose. five stars
Beck chooses several points of view. The title story is told from the letter of an academic wondering if he should use a recently discovered paper to re-open the Dreyfus and Zola events. Is it safe to challenge modern France and its military? Will his expert adviser tell him the subject is already beaten to death?
The Man Who Shot Stonewall Jackson is told from the words of a veteran of the civil war. Here Beck uses an apparently simple story of war’s horror to ask key social questions.
For a tour-de-force in social commentary and prejudice, told so straightforwardly you’re inside the characters, turn to Intrusion. For a nice surprise ending, turn to The Encounter.
In The Epidemic of ’53: “The buildings were surrounded by neat but scraggly grass patches, giving the entire area the appearance of a sterile, small town college, where the local progressive citizenry might send their barely functional offspring to incubate and not embarrass the family.”
If you’re scrolling for my infamous tiny carps, you can just keep reading. Nothing of note. Back to the good stuff.
In Misspent: “John Richardson, a tall, weathered, handsome man, lost to passing time and stares of hungry curiosity, sat on a small wooden bench as the snow hurled taunting tastes of cold tears in the small garden, part of a posh building that he had carved himself apart to possess.”
For a modern version of a parable, turn to Journey, which takes place in the deep past in China. Is there a moral to this story? Buy the book and turn to this page for a fast introduction to Beck’s scope.
Here is my boilerplate text on star counts. My personal guidelines, when doing an ‘official’ KBR review, are as follows: five stars means, roughly equal to best in genre. Rarely given. Four stars means, extremely good. Three stars means, definitely recommendable. I am a tough reviewer. I try hard to be consistent. Beck is up against some really big names, like Faulkner and Steinbeck. (The Sound and the Fury; Of Mice and Men.) In this company Beck stands pretty tall. Five stars seems right on to this curmudgeon. Extremely recommended.
Kindle Book Review Team member.
Social observation in 108 poems. Part warning, part experience. Four stars
Beck has titled this book appropriately. The tragedy of war is a recurring theme (among others, including inequality and public graft.) Turn to To a GI Who Never Read Pushkin for a strong exposure to Beck’s voice. What happens to those left behind?
Again, Images of Despair begins thus: “War veterans /with artificial limbs /waiting in line /at a soup kitchen.” and ends with this: “…approved misery /is a painful surprise /in New York City.” If you think that’s a spoiler, buy the book and read the middle of this poem.
In Hail to the Chief we find this: “The difference with Bush /was George W’s righteousness…” Beck will make you think again about how you think about past leaders.
In In My Lifetime IV: “and could not conceive /of a capitalist system /that relied on war /to nourish a nation.”
For a tour de force of the mishandling of unfortunates by New York City, turn to In My Lifetime VII. This poem will either make you ill or angry.
That should be enough to give you a feel for Beck’s work. Back to the star count. My personal guidelines, when doing an ‘official’ KBR review, are as follows: five stars means, roughly equal to best in genre. Rarely given. Four stars means, extremely good. Three stars means, definitely recommendable. I am a tough reviewer. I try hard to be consistent. Beck easily earns four stars with this collection. Your favourites may be different and your personal rating may well be higher.
Kindle Book Review Team member.
Evil has been an inescapable part of the human environment since time immemorial. Whether it originates from the Satan or otherwise, its tentacles have held humanity in a tight grip and there seems to be no way out. Men of letters, especially poets have always raised their alarm about this problem and philosophers have spent countless nights brooding over the issue.
It is indeed sad that men are cast against men. Man’s enemy today is not something extraterrestrial or God sent, but man himself. Men in power have set traps to make vulnerable fall into it and play along their evil designs. Countries drunk with power crush helpless nations into submission and servility. Weapons of mass destruction hunt down non-existent weapons of mass destruction and the collateral damage is immeasurable human suffering.
Gary Deck’s poems in this volume capture the decay of civilization, both at the individual level and the societal level. Often, while reading Gary Beck’s poems, one cannot escape remember Charles Baudelaire’s Flowers of Evil. The flowers of evil are strewn all around us, both rich and poor, mighty and weak. Most of Gary Beck’s poems ( rather, almost all of them) are written in plain simple language. They are simple, straight-forward statements that sound like statement of facts or lines from a newspaper story. They are not adorned with any poetic embellishments. Probably they are intended to make the reader pause and ponder over why the poet had chosen to label simple terse statements as poems. The reader, when he ruminates over the simple statements, starts thinking about the deep social conundrums that the poet wants to paint vividly. When that happens, the poems succeed in their mission.
Consider the below piece:
The world has always known
violence, murder, war,
even ethnic cleansing,
but rapid transmission of electronic news
constantly reminds us
that danger is present
everywhere we go
and continues to threaten
our frail stability.
Prima facie, there is not much “depth” or “poetic structure” in the above example, other than a strong anguish at the state of social affairs. Most of the poems in this collection fall under the same category, expressing disappointment over the various social and global issues, about how USA is deteriorating in its values, about how wars have displaced people and families, how the governments play truant with peoples’ lives etc. The below given poem also falls under the same category:
The graves are getting wider
to accommodate the dead
in permanent resting places,
weighted down by heavy headstones
that keep them from expanding.
Undertaker’s profits increase
from burying the obese
and they bless carbohydrates
as long as there’s enough room
in the congested graveyard
for future arrivals.
The below poem, though “straight-forward” and direct, could also impel the reader to think widely and draw other inferences. Could even lead to philosophical thoughts like men “waiting for the big waves that never come” their way. That’s where poems of this kind achieve their success, when they scrape past their apparent structure and deliver unexpected conclusions.
Seduced by glamorous shows
with sexy beach bunnies
surrounding men in wetsuits,
eager Florida surfers,
like much of America
from tv overload,
paddle in place
as they wait and wait
for the big waves
that never come.
Gary Becks is a well experienced author with many volumes of work to his credit. The subject volume Blossoms of Decay adds another feather to his cap.