Harold Abramowitz - This brilliant, poetic novel weaves a new structure for narrative, forces the reader to consider the complex and profound structures hidden in a record of time, each observation of the utterly quotidian transforming into a lyrical evocation of essential significance. Each repetition is a surprise, and each consideration an impossible enigma

Harold Abramowitz, Blind Spot, Civil Coping Mechanisms, 2016.
--from Part One - Hotel

Here, memory like a dripping faucet, slowly leaking events and considerations, one constantly feels like they are balancing on a teetering chair. This rigorous investigation of being leads one to consider the way a world revolves around a man like a vortex, the propensity of clipped phrases that alter, edit, build, revise, a constant modification of the one way one sees the world, exists in the world, remembers. Repetition, like stuttering, leads one through and around the vortex of consideration, yet like poetry the language points and articulates, then stutters again, the text as a glitchy archetype of keeping track, of observation, of the harmonious discontinuity of time’s ebb and flow: “There is no break in the harmony, and no seeing anything but for what it is.”
This brilliant, poetic novel weaves a new structure for narrative, forces the reader to consider the complex and profound structures hidden in a record of time, each observation of the utterly quotidian transforming into a lyrical evocation of essential significance. Each repetition is a surprise, and each consideration an impossible enigma. Narrated by a mysterious and clairvoyant consciousness, Blind Spot, is both blind and honest, isolated and compulsive, and achieves with such magnificent beauty a reconceptualization of seeing and reading that one might enter this book through its first lines and wish to never come out again.

This is a gorgeous slippery novel in the mode of Georges Perec or Magdalena Tulli or Azareen Van der Vliet Oloomi or . . . Harold Abramowitz! I read it with a tumbling sort of pleasure by a small body of water as a hummingbird with a purple throat came and went. It, the bird, seemed, in its hovering, to be trying to read Blind Spot over my shoulder. Is that why it kept coming back? One impossibly exquisite thing seeking another?—Danielle Dutton

“It’s one thing to write a novel about trauma – to tell a coherent story, to create (and be comforted by, to whatever extent) a narrative arc of pain and loss. But it’s something else entirely to find oneself inside a series of imagistic and syntactical loops – a Venn diagram of partial thoughts (or dreams or memories) that become more certain and more troubling each time they refuse to relate or resolve. Harold Abramowitz’s Blind Spot is not about anything – about, from the Old English, ‘outside of.’ Instead, it’s a kind of prayer made out of attention (Simone Weil). Incantatory and somatechnic. I fucking love this book. Abramowitz writes the mind and body (in trauma, in everyday life) from the knotted and careful inside. —TC Tolbert 

“Like a careful clinician, a mathematician of the soul, Abramowitz takes us on a voyage of cautious deliberation. How does he do it? How is it that he creates such deep suspense and eager, almost anxious, anticipation through such minute & slightly various ministrations of lexicon? Alongside him we become careful detectives of our narrators’ confusions & disappointments even as we try to discover, again alongside him, just where it is that the center of those confusions lie …. It is a strange, unsettling, and beautiful book.”—Veronica Gonzalez

Dear Dearly Departed
Harold Abramowitz, Dear Dearly Departed, Palm Press, 2008.

Dear Dearly Departed, There are traps. This letter is, perhaps, just such a trap. This letter is just the type of trap we were always talking about. We are always talking about traps, about this letter, about just this type of trap. We are always talking. We were talking about traps, perhaps, like this letter, by the lake one night, and it was cold. And I had my shoes on. I had new shoes on. And this is a trap. The world is a trap.

"The elegy, the lament, the love gone wrong of DEAR DEARLY DEPARTED makes me feel sad and yet it is so beautifully written, so wry, my sadness is full of hope" - Juliana Spahr

"DEAR DEARLY DEPARTED makes an entire world of gestures, all necessarily incomplete. Consisting of letters, this innovative reinterpretation of epistolary conventions demonstrates the punishing anxiety that overtakes language when its crucial addressee is lost--a state in which language itself seems to be rejected as a pre-condition of its utterance"--Stan Apps

Beginning and ending with the same phrase “Dear Dearly Departed” to a lengthy yet necessary missive to an unknown listener, much is to be expected in between the point of entrance and exit, though the book's sheer magnitude is difficult to decipher, yet prevailing. Harold Abramowitz's second book (following his earlier chapbook Three Column Table) utilizes repetitions, short and brash lines, declarations of feelings and slippery absolutisms, as well as follows through with an examination of numerous dichotomies -- such as lover-enemy, absence-presence, life-death, love-hate, progress-regression, man-woman, child-adult, order-chaos, ad infinitum. Abramowitz has the reader on a sophisticated escapade; your ride is sure to be eloquent and well-deliberated. Dear Dearly Departed is one exploded paragraph -- though not to be confused with Vanessa Place's 50,000 word, run-on sentence of a novel Dies: A Sentence. Yet, both works of art can be considered avant-garde, in that they push the interpreter into fresh literary architectures, if even somewhat uncomfortable, as well as breaking through previous notions of what a poetic body of work needs to investigate and via what avenues and methods of dissection.
The narrator's path is contradictory; his perspective efficiently twists and turns displaying the moods of many who may be gliding through this piece, and more importantly, through this time period where many of us are situated in transit, pushing towards some kind of more solid closure. For instance, Abramowitz writes, “The seasons have changed me. I have, so to speak, changed with the seasons. And I don't mean that. I don't mean this.” Or another example of the narrator's ability to quickly shift gears: “But things don't end. They do end. Things don't end. But they really do end.” But what is the point of displaying such unnerving instability (or what could also be read as humanness)? One might gather that the process of writing through such events actually releases the writer and reader from their power all together.
And sadly, this text -- at some point -- will end as well, even though this is one poetic vortex that one isn't so interested in leaving, if even after a few pages into it. Dear Dearly Departed can be likened to melatonin, in that it has a particular inner rhythm and balance and becomes a stabilizing unit in-and-of itself. Yet, within this particular literary drug, Abramowitz concocts variegated moods and sinusoidal phases. One minute, the reader might be feeling calm and satisfied by Abramowitz's consonance, alliteration, exposure to repetitive trance-like phrases such as “Look into the room. Look deeper into the room. Look deeper into the room” or “The time, and the time before that. The time and the time before that” or “A whole world, and, in the end, a whole world. A whole world of people.” Another minute, the reader might feel impatient by this epistolary's reluctance to accommodate you. Dear Dearly Departed is extremely satisfying to the edgy, anxious reader in view -- there is no way to dodge the honesty, love and sensitivity present on each page. Love is repeated, sadness resurfaces, and such sentiments could leave you feeling relieved of some thorn or malady that you didn't even realize you were harboring -- until it is gone. Absolutely gone or Dear Dearly Departed. - Jacquelyn Davis

Harold Abramowitz, Not Blessed, Les Figues Press, 2010. 

In NOT BLESSED, a story is told not once, but twenty-eight times in twenty-eight shifting versions. Here, a story acts as a chosen narrative constraint, a constraint which, once chosen, becomes a compulsion within the text, a landing point the narrator must reach again and again. NOT BLESSED: a brilliant twist of a tale, where narrative is spun like politics in the nightly news, deployed in a language that delights and distorts as it winds toward the trauma of non-truth and multiple non-originals. NOT BLESSED asks: what is the what that makes who?

UNFO Burns A Million Dollars

“Set in a frightening and indeterminate present, this bitter and masterful parable demonstrates the somnambulant power of language. The recurrent memory track studded with Euro pre-modernist signifiers (grandmother – village – boy – policeman – prominent figure – meadow – field) moves incrementally backwards towards no particular end. Channeling the early plays of Peter Handke, Abramowitz draws us into the narrator’s suspect nostalgia: In the southern part of the country when the space was open, and when there were still people to share things with … “—Chris Kraus

“Runic, rhythmic, algorithmic, Not Blessed mesmerizes with a hidden logic. Through a series of finely calibrated repetitions, Abramowitz nimbly looses the old moorings—beginning, middle and end—setting us adrift on the sea of memory.”—Janet Sarbanes

a story told twenty-eight times (once each for all the days of february), harold abramowitz’s project of memoir as only one memory infinitely repeating and retold is interesting… but even more interesting, more mysterious — and certainly constructing a delicate and beautiful linguistic hermitage — are each chapter’s introductory flourishes of direct address. these seem to situate the text’s ambitions but end up just dancing (which could amount to the same thing) and demonstrate a rare control somewhat reminiscent of blanchot. here are a few examples:
And it is high time I made myself more clear. Forgive me for having been, thus far, obscure. In fact, I did not mean to lie. In fact, I meant to do the opposite. I mean always to tell the truth. It’s just that your line of questioning has been excellent and has allowed me an opportunity to reflect on the past, to remember that there are many different ways of viewing the past. Indeed, I have come to realize, yet again, that certain principles need constant restating in order to be understood. For instance, in violation of the law. Or how certain acts of indecency were, at first, construed. Hence, the page turns. The story continues. If even only in outline. Why, the mere mention of it causes me to shudder. But if one carefully studies the footnotes. And every word was an act, or rather, a movement towards persuasion. Rather put together, don’t you think? But let me put it to you still more clearly… (p. 36)
And the question quickly came to haunt him. The color of his umbrella against the sky. Or, its outline, so to speak. Or even a potion, or a serum, or some other kind of cure. In fact, a fixation on creating something perfect. A perfect day. The memory of which was just out of reach. It was spring and it was raining. The mockingbird sang. A beautiful day, nonetheless. There was an electricity in the air that reminded him of the time before the war. Flags and banners. The platform. Trucks in the streets with loudspeakers. He had managed to get everything he’d wanted then. And there was a buzz in the air. One question remained, however. And things were very different from that point on… (p. 70).
Eventually every mystery is solved. But without narration. And without a specific voice to guide the reader. However, without noise, without air and sound, there is no one left. No one. Eventually he was able to repeat everything he knew. And every irrelevancy was recorded. And the point was that between irrelevancies various truths could be discovered. The mystery would be solved. He had to get back to his house at some point… (p. 76). - Eugene Lim

“Such repetition picks up speed at points, and there is the teasing hint of breakthrough, rupture, represented in another repeating tale, a fragment of a story about a hunter who, returning to his family’s home, strides straight through the living room’s picture window.”— decomP: a literary magazine

“The best writers tell the same story over and over again. In his new book, Harold Abramowitz takes this idea to an extreme. Not Blessed consists of 28 chapters, each between two and three pages in length. Each chapter in this slim volume tells the same story: A boy wanders from his grandmother’s house, gets lost in the woods, and is rescued by a policeman.”— NewPages

“We all recognize fiction, even against our will, as a firmly resolving plan of action. Yes, satisfaction exists in such resolve, but that resolve is a fabrication. Not Blessed adds to the literature that questions that determined resolve. It faces the narrator’s testimony with inquisitiveness rather than blind faith. For that, and for other marvels, I give it thumbs up.”— Galatea Resurrects

Not Blessed calls for the reader’s awareness of their phenomenological perceptions. It seems to ask, how it is that we narrativize when we encounter stories, texts, myths? How do these stories affect us not only as readers, but as human beings with brains, brains that do not sit and simply process data but organic entities that may be altered profoundly even after what seems an insignificant encounter in the woods.”— Octopus 14

Nikhil Bilwakesh’s review on Jacket2
A reading from and discussion of Not Blessed by Valeveil Magazine

Harold Abramowitz, Sin is To Celebration (co-author), House Press, 2009.

Harold Abramowitz, Sunday, or A Summer's Day, PS Books, 2008.

Harold Abramowitz, THREE COLUMN TABLE, Insert Press, 2007.

“A Tall, Dark Mathematics” by Harold Abramowitz


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