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Fleck works for a bank but is uninterested in wealth. He mixes whisky with theology, politics with pizza, original lines with stolen ones. This pamphlet charts a litany of friendship, disintegration, collapse and eventual disappearance via friends, virtual friends and obscure notes. Money makes a cameo appearance as a ghost, politicians leap into cauldrons of boiling fat, God drifts along the high street by mobile phone, and the Patron Saint of Plainsong Maledictions turns up with a little advice in song, which readers are welcome to sing-along to if they wish. In a world of financial insecurity and rapid change, the fractious twins of Gain and Loss battle it out until virtually indistinguishable.
‘It is rare to find a collection put together so consistently, and perhaps being a pamphlet helps here, the themes do not get tired. But, on the other hand, the themes themselves are unusual, or at least have unusual clarity: to write more about a specific absence than any real moment or presence seems new to me, especially when achieved with such grace. And there will, as I’ve suggested, be many more ways to read this book than mine, it is far bigger than its size suggests. Fleck couldn’t hope for a better offering, wherever he is.’ —Harry Giles, Sabotage Reviews
‘Mackenzie's vigorous urban language, often employed in declarative sentences, vivifies it all ... The Opposite of Cabbage impresses with its distinctive style and energetic exploration of 'the way we live now.'’ —Carrie Etter, TLS
‘Rob Mackenzie has written a collection of impressive variety and the very best kind of abundance; one which deserves to be on a number of prize shortlists and find for itself a wide audience.’ —Ben Wilkinson, Magma
‘This really rather splendid collection... is a volume awhirl with expertly juggled ideas and apprehensions. There is not a dud poem in the book. Those with which the collection culminates balance lexical brio, lyrical lift, taut technique, a humanity as deep and nuanced as it is unsentimental and a resistance to paraphrase, that ineffably compelling originality, upon which all really good poetry continues to depend.’ —Donny O’Rourke, Northwords Now