A hybrid collection, David Lazar’s “I’ll Be Your Mirror: Essays and Aphorisms,” includes short memoirs, erudite essays and aphorisms, weaving together surreal and disparate reflections on relationships, family and habits. These divergent pieces and styles speak to the disjointed nature of memory and the fragmented essence of human experience. It’s this sense of disconnection that holds the medley together. We all contend in our own lives with what doesn’t appear to fit on the surface and it’s this familiar feeling that allows us to shuffle along with the writer from one experience to another while still keeping our hands and feet inside the ride.
The deeply personal essays of the book’s first leg are doused with a mixture of humor and guilt and worry over the jagged edges of what love has wrought both individually and collectively. “I spend half my days sitting around waiting for a knock on the door, someone standing there with a paper full of accusations,” the author admits. His topics range from his dead ex-lover to terrifying dreams, insomnia to Pandora’s Box; we jump from subject to subject as if we are in Lazar’s head, leaping mid-thought off the problems that pepper these introspective compositions onto others we knew not of.
Part two appeals to the reader’s own experiences in order for the writer to justify or to better understand his own: “Let me whisper in your ear. It’s just the two of us. Come on, you can tell me. Or rather, it’s okay, I can tell you. The confession. After all, I’m writing about myself, and my subject is really important, right?” Lazar asks in “To the Reader, Sincerely,” a two-sided conversation conducted by only one end of the equation.
The final section presents aphorisms on God, mothers, us all: “Everyone loves you for the less bothersome version of who you used to be,” the author suggests. Because as time, like this essay collection, stacks on itself, there’s always more material to mine. The deeper we dig the more we wish for simpler times. (Amy Strauss Friedman)
“I’ll Be Your Mirror: Essays and Aphorisms”
By David Lazar
University of Nebraska Press, 238 pages, $22.95
Amy Strauss Friedman is the author of the poetry collection “The Eggshell Skull Rule” (forthcoming in 2018 from Kelsay Books) and the chapbook “Gathered Bones are Known to Wander” (Red Bird Chapbooks, 2016). A two-time Best of the Net nominee, her poems have appeared in The Rumpus, Pittsburgh Poetry Review, Escape Into Life, decomP magazinE, and elsewhere. Amy earned her MA in Comparative Literature from Northwestern University. She was born and raised in Chicago and recently moved to Denver, Colorado where she teaches English. Her work can be found at amystraussfriedman.com.