Kelsey Street
Stripped Tales, Barbara Guest and artist Anne Dunn

Reading Barbara Guest and Anne Dunn's Stripped Tales is a complicated, and in a sense, an elaborate pleasure. The book (nicely designed by Robert Rosenwasser) is splayed out for the reader like a beautiful, contemplative, possibly ancient map. It has the feel of a sketch book. There are thirteen wonderful drawings, including the cover, with which one can spend easily as much time as with the text. The book seems monumental, but has an airy quality which comes both from ample space on the page and ample mental space between words, lines, paragraphs, and images. ("phantom") Guest contrives to use a word like "phantom" in a way that informs, convinces, insinuates, charms and yet possesses a kind of rigor. There is juxtaposition of material that seems quoted or stolen and stuck in, with the edges still showing, up against lines that seem exquisitely composed, thought out and sounded. [18]




Once they talked the blue moon where it lit up the clay cobbled into brew flowing over old joints and bent leather, a framboise shawl and a knuckle in the lucid bleached zone grass flattened and white.



Both the drawing and the writing in this book are classical gestures-deft and calligraphic in their ability to evoke a dreamy yet precise thinking. There is a flat, presentational perspective which leads the eye around both written and drawn lines.

"Stripped" (I just stripped a wooden cabinet down to the grain, scraped, scrubbed, set it out to dry.) "Tales," but the narrative is the story of combining elements and creating a balance, a continuity, but with a gleaming, broken surface. In both writing and drawing figures morph into each other and into a grainy yet somehow smoothly flowing, memorable, funny even mellifluous text: [9]




In hollows dim-witted rabbits running out of the barn the storm might/ have killed them "don't think much of the girl guess she left the country."



-Laura Moriarty