A review of Bone House by Scott Laudati
By Michael Burton, Editor-in-Chief
Bone House is a book of poetry written by Scott Laudati and published by Bone Machine Inc. A form email sent me a free PDF copy of this book to read and review.
Bone House consists of 37 poems spread across about 120 pages. The poems deal with themes of depression, drug addiction (particularly cocaine), poverty, not living up to one’s own expectations, and lost loves. The poems make very little use of punctuation or capitalization, and most individual lines are very short, using breaks in sentences to make a point or insert double or even triple meanings based on where the break is.
Bone House’s greatest strength is its use of imagery and narrative. Use of imagery is sporadic, but there is usually one good line per poem. Picking one out at random: “and no ghosts hang like frames in these halls.”
Occasionally Laudati engages in more narrative poetry. My personal favorites in the book were the amusingly titled “Buying Cocaine for *** ****,” detailing the author’s experience buying cocaine for a famous actress in New York, and “Sunday Best,” which I will not spoil but it is a haunting read.
Where the book falls flat is its unrelentingly bleak tone. While bleakness, angst, and pain are common themes in poetry and writing in general, it is the authors that rise above their own misery to provide dark comedy or perfect their craft to the point of transcending the reader’s natural reluctance to read page after page of suffering that are remembered. Laudati does himself no favors by opening his book with first a poem about losing one’s love, and then another about dealing with annoying people at work. The subject matter and especially the tone are worthier of a brooding fourteen-year-old, not a fully-grown adult.
Too many pages are buried in overblown prose about various former girlfriends or lamenting his own missed potential. The book takes a particularly unwelcome dark turn when in one poem he rages about poor reviews of his novel and contemplates perching on his windowsill with his rifle and killing someone just to make a difference in the world. A lot of my good will towards the book evaporated after reading that.
Bone House is a writer’s elongated tale of pain and impotent rage, and of being aware of one’s own shortcomings yet unable to meaningfully change for the better. The majority of the thirty-seven poems bled together into black and gray, and I found my eyes flitting over many stanzas that did little but detail various stages of being emotionally distraught.
Nevertheless, there is a self-awareness to some of the pieces that make Bone House stand out from similar poetry I have read. As Laudati himself puts it (paraphrasing): “(my) appetite far exceeded my talent.” He knows that in publishing this book, he is likely stretching for something that feels unattainable. For that, I salute him.
If you are a fan of poetry documenting human suffering and want to support a struggling artist, Bone House can be ordered from Amazon.com.