Join (Free!) | Login  

     Popular! Books, Stories, Articles, Poetry
   Services MarketPlace (Free to post!)
Where Authors and Readers come together!


Featured Authors:  Audrey Coatesworth, iMargaret Hardisty, ijd young, iPier Tyler, iellen george, iWilliam DeVault, iMs Beeds, i

  Home > Action/Thriller > Books Popular: Books, Stories, Articles, Poetry     

Doug Holder

· Become a Fan
· Contact me
· Books
· Articles
· Poetry
· News
· Stories
· Blog
· Messages
· 346 Titles
· 446 Reviews
· Add to My Library
· Share with Friends!
Member Since: Before 2003


Subscribe to the Doug Holder Newsletter. Enter your name and email below and click "sign me up!"
Doug Holder, click here to update your pages on AuthorsDen.




 Mass Transit

Drawings by Joan Farber

Poems by Michael O’Brien

Pressed Wafer

375 Parkside Avenue

Brooklyn, New York 111226




by Wendell Smith


Mass Transit is a collection of some 25 graphite portraits by Joan Farber interspersed with 21 poems by Michael O’Brien. At 4 x 5 inches it may be the world's most petite coffee-table book, but it more than holds its own with larger examples of the genre. This is not a book to be read; that is, it is not a volume to be finished and stored on a shelf beside other books you've consumed. It needs to be left hanging around on an accessible surface, picked up and tasted, put down and picked up again—savored for its recurrent appeal to the appetite of your attention. Anyway, that is how my wife and I used it while it was on our kitchen table for a couple of weeks and how I came to appreciate its flavors


Although trim and dignified in its design, this little book has a casual structure. The design forgoes page numbers and places each drawing or poem on a right hand page with the facing page blank, so a reader encounters these statements, whether visual or verbal, individually without direct reference of one to another and is free to cross reference the drawings and poems at random so they form a mass of meaning not a linear narrative.  


The drawings need to be seen to appreciate how completely Ms. Farber has mastered her pencil. The drawings vary from quick gestures that capture expressions in a few dozen lines to complete renderings: the difference between one subject’s startled thought and another’s meditative consideration. The faces in these drawings trigger questions, "what was she thinking?" and other associations. When I first saw this drawing,


[put the drawing here], my mind reflexively said, "Rembrandt."


As the drawings vary from gestures to more complete portraits so the verses vary from notes:


kneeling bus

sighs, yields


to more complete descriptions:


A small, pot-bellied women in a bright green

dress speaks antiphonal, incomprehensible

sentences by the Seventh Avenue subway,

possessed, testifying, warning, rocking

in place with the voices, then repeating

decimal, ghosts that feed on speech. Nearby

a man, head raised, eyes closed, is drinking

the sunlight. He takes his time. His thirst

is great.


The poems are best read, as one would meditate upon a drawing, until the image blossoms in one's imagination as a character with a story:


opens her Times like

logical argument

shaking the pages as

if to be rid of the

worst of the news


The words honor trouble:


patience of the lost, going

through their ruins: ageless white-

haired high-browed black man in the

59th St. station, wild

eyes, nowhere, opening &

closing of filthy Bible

like a valve. like breath


and transience:


her smile detaches itself

from this girl's face

and from her benevolence

to hang in the

air for a moment

and then fade as

she boards the #11

bus one gray morning


I don’t think O’Brien’s poems should be subjected to the enhanced interrogation of a close reading. As I’ve said, I found them best when I absorbed them as I did Farber’s drawings, slowly letting my thoughts improvise along with them. When I did, the book became a celebration, an acknowledgment that we are, all of us, a mass in transit and the company we are keeping, as it is presented here, is a worthy one.


A note on Pressed Wafer


Pressed Wafer was founded in Boston by Daniel Bouchard, Joseph Torra and William Corbett and was originally 9 Columbus Square. It moved with Corbett to 375 Parkside, Brooklyn, New York in 2012. While you can order individual books from, Pressed Wafer subscriptions are available for $100 a year. In addition to the publications you receive for your subscription, you will also get all the backlist titles available. What a deal. I discovered Mass Transit because I became a subscriber this year. The backlist books I received for subscribing meant my investment came to less that $10 a book. So far those I’ve read have been as engaging as Mass Transit. As I said, what a deal!

Want to review or comment on this book?
Click here to login!

Need a FREE Reader Membership?
Click here for your Membership!

Books by
Doug Holder


Awakenings by Richard Wilhelm

washing the stones by Linda Larson

Buy Options

No One Dies At The Au Bon Pain

Hot Rain by Lo Galluccio

Selected Poetry by Susie D

The Woman Has A Voice by Deborah Priestly

Authors alphabetically: A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

Featured Authors | New to AuthorsDen? | Add AuthorsDen to your Site
Share AD with your friends | Need Help? | About us

Problem with this page?   Report it to AuthorsDen
© AuthorsDen, Inc. All rights reserved.