Adam Peterson - Death by block of lead falling from the sky, death by long fall, death by bubble bath, death by malfunction, death by ex-lovers

Adam Peterson, My Untimely Death (Subito Press, 2007)

"Audacious, ambitious and auspicious, My Untimely Death is the record of its own impossibility. Razor-sharp and brave, this is a remarkable debut." — Jeffrey DeShell

"Wildly funny, poignant, exhilarating meditations that fracture and reassemble everything we know and believe about living and dying. Adam Peterson reinvents the notion of story here, dismantling the lines between genres and creating a gorgeous new kind of prose with a voice that is simply irresistible. You can't stop reading this book again and again." —Jonis Agee

"Adam Peterson’s My Untimely Death is a small, perfect-bound chapbook of 43 pages. The cover design is minimal, simple, and exciting: a block of something (lead?) crashes downward across the front page, smoke and fire billowing behind it, to strike Adam Peterson on the face, if he were standing just off the page.
The fifteen texts in the chapbook tell of various ways that the narrator has arrived at an untimely death: death by block of lead falling from the sky, death by long fall, death by bubble bath, death by malfunction, death by roo-roo.
Death by ex-lovers.
I read Adam Peterson’s chapbook very quickly. I read it in the bathroom, and then I read it in my bed. Adam Peterson’s chapbook is full of funny turns of phrase and odd, little punch lines that make you feel clever. As you read Adam Peterson’s writing, you might think how clever you are for following Adam Peterson’s writing. I mean this in a good, pleasant way. I felt very good, positive feelings as I read this chapbook, and I often giggled as I read it. Adam Peterson writes in a very playful, free and easy sort of language. The texts here are light, despite their being about untimely death, and for that I was strangely happy.
Take, for example, that first ‘poem’ at La Petite Zine. What I enjoyed about it as I read it was the way Adam Peterson has fun with the ‘human skin’ of the piece. It’s mentioned in the first line, then appears again in the phrase ‘the original blood and flesh version.’ I laughed when I read the next sentence: ‘They hit me in the stomach.’ What happy punishment! Then Adam Peterson twists that little punchline in a new direction. When the narrator asks if the guards have brought him flesh to write his choice of execution upon, they look confused instead of hitting him in the stomach as we might expect. They hand him a composition book through the bars. I’m imagining one of those marble notebooks. I can’t stop laughing at this.
Another funny piece in the chapbook is the one about land mines. Its first paragraph is this:
My untimely death comes from a misstep. My untimely death comes from a footfall. They taught us that land mines are everywhere and so it comes as no surprise when my boot finds one in the parking lot of the mall where I had come to browse racks of clothes, try on new boots, and demo a treadmill which they taught us is the only safe way to walk. My untimely death happens on a cloudy day without wind. I take small pleasure in lighting up the sky and blwoing leaves from the fake trees in the parking lot medians.
I really love that bit about how he’s gone to try on new boots.
Then the narrator defines a few terms for us.
Miniacal – Mad with the worry over the threat of land mines.
Misstep-child – One orphaned by land mines.
Church – Place where we are pretty sure there are no land mines.
God? – The answer to the question of who put land mines everywhere.
I like this bit a lot because of how the definitions sort of diminish in confidence. The first two definitions seem very official to me, but the next two are sort of hilarious for their use of ‘pretty sure’ and ‘everywhere.’ I feel like that adds to the humor of the piece, but I’m having trouble explaining why. In my head, I know that I think it’s clever and fun to read, but I’m not doing a good job explaining why. I’m sorry.
Anyhow, I really enjoyed reading this chapbook. Adam Peterson writes cleverly and with good humor. I think the fun surprises he creates are worth a look, and I recommend this chapbook." - Ryan Call

An excerpt:

"Spring has come after the longest winter of my life so I lie in the hammock napping while the sun is out and the cicadas are singing and John Secada is singing on the small radio I carried out in my left hand while in my right hand I carried a pink lemonade which rests on my sternum wetting a cold circle on my polo, and it is all perfectly spring until everything gets ruined by my untimely death.
My deaths falls from the sky. At first a dark shadow that might be a cloud, the sun never breaks it. Shade is not spring so, upset, I open my eyes to see a block of what appears to be lead falling toward me. This is not spring, but I close my eyes to it and think how happy I am that a block of lead is not winter either.
This is what it feels like to die: Like throwing away a letter; building a diorama; hating someone you spend time with; eating your favorite meal on consecutive days; flipping over a blank page in a photo album; the band Bad Company; sleeping next to a dog; buying an expensive pen; seeing a cousin unexpectedly; sampling a taste of your baby’s food; aiming a pellet gun; cooking your first meal for one; being late to a job interview.
Dying feels like other things too. To me it feels like a nursery rhyme I try to remember. It is as if I know this death from somewhere. It was not always a block of lead in the spring. Like all things, I imagined death many ways. It just as easily could have been cobalt, car crash, summer, stab, or more cobalt."



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