What does the Tattooed Lady fear? 'Some day I'll run out of skin.' Erin Keane's new book, Death-Defying Acts, is a collection of monologues by a varied cast of circus performers--the Aerialist, Zorada (a fortune teller), the Clown, the Tattooed Lady, the Lion Tamer and even the Lion. They're living on the 'existential edge' says Richard Cecil, and their stories are crazily, eerily familiar to all of us.
Gumption pervades Erin Keane's fab new collection, Death-Defying Acts, the whirligig world of circus folks lit up by the poet's verve. But fabrefaction alone is never enough: Keane helps us see the aerialist's ambition as our own, how 'So many ways to fly' characterizes the carnie and the midway we call our daily lives. And here, we thought we weren't freaks. --Alan Michael Parker, author of Elephants & Butterflies
What does the tattoed lady fear? 'Some day I'll run out of skin.' What does the reader of Death-Defying Acts fear? 'Soon, I'll run out of poems in this wonderful book to read.' Even coulrophobes and circus haters (that's almost everybody in the twenty-first century, right?) are going to be drawn into these weird, precise, grimly funny monologues by clowns, freaks, the aerialist, the lady lion tamer, and her lion (yes, the lion gets some of the best lines in the book). Erin Keane's characters are living on the existential edge, as we all are, but they know it and we don't, usually, except at 4 a.m. on the way back from the bathroom. If you always wanted to run away to join the circus, avoid this book. If you always wanted to live near the scary edge, peering over into the abyss, read this book. You'll wish it were longer. --Richard Cecil, author of Twenty First Century Blues
Erin Keane's circus is filled with beautiful losers. The tattooed lady, clown, lion tamer, aerialist, Zorada the fortuneteller, and even the lion speak eloquently of life on the outside but inside the heart of a weird art. Who among us has not felt the beast's breath on our necks or seen our bodies covered with stories. These pages tell us what we felt and how we still feel in the dark before sleep. --Barbara Hamby, author of All-Night Lingo Tango and Babel