The Alps by Brandon Shimoda
144 pages, 7x9, $14
Part elegy, part celebration, Brandon Shimoda's debut interweaves glimpses of individual lives, fragments of revolution and war, and a bird's-eye view of the waxing and waning of generations in mapping profound issues of identity and history. Viewed through the lens of his particular family history, Shimoda stations The Alps in an eerily beautiful yet threatening landscape, one entangled, inextricably, with the brutality of human existence. By turns playful, detached, and deeply emotional, the myriad voices of The Alps resonate with a spare and violent beauty.
— Laura Sims
There are the Alps, standing impossibly high and shining like pieces of Moon grafted onto Earth. They pour their substance down into the valleys, rewriting the human landscape with passages of ice. The words of Brandon Shimoda's The Alps also seem to arrive in this way, transfixed by cold cascades of glacial time. Human narratives embedded here and carries great distances across the white space of the page. And while Shimoda's poetic glaciers may have the power to grind words themselves to rubble, they also serve as windows (symbolized by the empty frames of one section) into a meaning beyond words. Here, frozen records of the past — personal memories, along with traces of ancestors both literary and familial — are fractured and reassembling according to an "unknown intermixture of laws" (in the words of the British physicist Tyndall, describing glacial structure). Shimoda (citing Tyndall) looks toward the "order and beauty" hidden behind the "utter confusion" of the Real.
— Andrew Joron
Brandon Shimoda's The Alps is an exploration across modes of perception and through them, primarily the visual and the intuitive, which encompasses the feeling-out experience (whether one's own or others') as memory, intervention, collage, bricolage. A formally interdisciplinary text, The Alps expands the borders around forms of identity and, in one section, confronts the breakdown of language as the medium constitutive of identity.
Shimoda's is a welcome voice among a new generation, one saturated by images and so compelled, at times, to creatively, renewingly engage and remake them.
— Lisa Fishman
A scattering, a drowning, a droning, a hoofing; a bombing, a sinking, a plugging, a mapping; a feasting, a birthing, a stitching, a sewing. The Alps is an avalanche inventing ceremony. Part Maximus, part Cremaster, The Alps proceeds across a "cropping continent" variously sounding, muffling, digesting, and smoking out histories and voices "eroding nation-blankness sort of." If it is true that "[...] there is / no witness / to vanquish / language from the books you know," The Alps, in its omnivorous, flesh-eating pursuit, invites us to at least banquet with it to be among the "self-fertilized / guests, among ghosts" in its vast and nomadic recalibrations performs a dazzling new archeology.
— Anthony Hawley