Diatribe from the Library

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In Farrell Greenwald Brenner’s playful, cutting Diatribe from the Library, books are toxins, grenades, they have bones. Books are typed on cigarette papers and smoked outside of the library. Farrell writes of the burning of books, reminds us that “witch-burning is still in vogue,” and hints at the smoldering fires of the Holocaust. All of this feels even more palpable as we enter an era with a president-elect who states that the burning of the U.S. flag should be punishable by the loss of citizenship. What is citizenship? What happens “when your family crosses an ocean”? What is displacement and diaspora—for Jews, Palestinians, African-Americans? Can the library, can the book, heal wounds—“this/is mine/the word/the page/the book”? Farrell’s book itself is a kind of antidote: “I wish for you the megaphone into which you can spit that fire/and become a dragon of your own.”
—Becca Shaw Glaser, co-author of Mindful Occupation: Rising Up Without Burning Out

Bursting with playful repetition, Farrell Greenwald Brenner’s Diatribe from the Library is a storm of lyrical verse. Her collection serves as treatise on the millennial college experience—both in and outside the library—with unconventional odes to the “red solo cup,” a sly “Psalm” to “…dark roast, merciful be / Thine earthen beans divine,” and a hat’s off to the “fairy godmothers,” of “JSTOR / and SAGE.” Often abandoning traditional form and punctuation, Brenner surprises us often with this smart and charming debut.
Christina Quintana, author of The Heart Wants