Aaron Fagan’s debut collection glitters with contemporary life, from poems on love, travel, cartoons and shopping, sitting alongside lyrics on channel surfing, philosophy and God. Gathering together work from over a decade of writing, Fagan takes us on tour through his metaphoric Garage, the title signaling his musical forbears in punk and electronic music. On our way, through improvisations, trials and errors, we join him in a world where invention and failure are indistinguishable parts of the journey, and Fagan makes the ideal companion, in love with the world and its characters, filled with hope and humor.
‘The intelligent, impeccably crafted poems in Garage, Aaron Fagan’s debut collection, function as philosophical micro-treatises. From the working class angst of ‘Doing My Part for the Tool and Die Industry’ to the post-Romantic musings of ‘Resistentialism,’ Aaron Fagan’s introspections cast light on a world in which the poem’s speakers find themselves trying to make sense of the absurd, and the sense that’s made is the poems themselves, which come to us as bits of gold sieved from the daily dross of human existence.’ —Christopher Kennedy
‘Fagan's first book is vivid and aesthetically disturbing work. His
promise is considerable because his originality should prove to be
decisive.’ —Harold Bloom
‘Resolute, understated, and sometimes sullen, the debut volume from New York City-based Fagan explores the poet’s doubts about his vocation and his doubts about the worth of his art. A long poem set “at Zebra Lounge in Chicago” recalls, “My beer was empty/ And I had nothing to say./ Who knows what to say?” Another muses, “No need for a poem/ To commemorate how inarticulate we are.” Other pages chronicle post-collegiate dejection, a young man’s war on still-undeclared ambitions, or else attempt with measured irony to scale back the pretensions, and the inflated symbols, prior poets have tried to use. Children in “Recall” remain enraptured when adults grow bored and sad; a poem about waking up gets titled “My Arrogance.” Though the title refers to the poet’s tastes in underground rock and dance music, that music is little in evidence here; more evident is the self-mocking, saturnine temper of such precursors as Alan Dugan (from whom Fagan takes an appropriate epigraph) or even Howard Nemerov. Yet even these anti-lyrics and bedroom palinodes strive towards apt purposes: this poet so given to humble skepticism he still tries to believe that “each thing we make/ Results from the wild permutations of love.”’ —Publishers Weekly
‘In perhaps our favorite poem in the book, “Private Number Calling,” the narrator’s cell phone rings, and a child on the other end asks, “Who is it?” Fagan writes, “But you see I kept saying,/“Aaron, this is Aaron.”/And the child (Too young/To tell whether it was a boy/Or a girl) repeated, “Who is it?” The child remains calm, but the narrator loses it, until the poem takes an unexpected, hopeful turn in the end. It contains all that we loved about this first collection: Fagan’s fuzzy and fragile take on the world.’ —Jonathan Messinger