Press Release: Yuill, Medicine Show

April 15, 2010
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In Medicine Show, inner conflict is wonderfully realized in the clash of down-home plain speech and European high culture utterances. Tom Yuill’s book mirrors an old-style hawking of wares, with all the charm and absurdity that results when high culture meets pop, when city meets small town, and when provincialism confronts urbanity.

Medicine Show lives up to both halves of its title: a vivid, exhilarating imagination show that is also strong medicine. Tom Yuill examines the grief and desperation underlying postures and ruses of self-deception. The book’s brilliant adaptations and imitations of Hikmet and Villon cast a raking, skeptical light on Texas versions of the quasi-Byronic hero. Yuill’s sardonic, clear-eyed comedy is humane and antic: a born talker on a serious mission.“—ROBERT PINSKY
“This is strong medicine: tough, dysphemistic at times, at times brilliantly rude, Yuill is a poet of praise but also a poet of the lowdown and the takedown, cutting in where other writers fear to go: ‘Your dead are real,’ he warns, ‘They’re on your shoulders, picking at your meals.’ Yuill is ready to see disgust, or violence, but even more ready to praise where praise is deserved. He’s tough on himself but kind to his great allies—the Rolling Stones, Francois Villon, Nazim Hikmet—who come with him even into his version of Texas, which follows him, like it or not, wherever he goes: ‘I roll up in a world that licks its chops / And thumps around me, sometimes stubs my toes.’ That’s what Yuill makes the moon say: as for what he hears from skinheads in Dallas, from the Firefly Lady, from previous lovers, you’ll have to listen in.”—STEVEN BURT

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