Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Review: The Distance To The End

The Distance to the End
by Michael Aaron Casares
Serasac Press

reviewed by Yuliya Geikhman

"We were creatures of the moment. We were high on life in ways some would never understand."

Four former drug users return to Las Vegas to celebrate a substantial lottery win. What could possibly go wrong? Nicholas Duke is drinking the moment in. For him, life is perfect. He has his estranged boyfriend, Raoul, back in his life, and his two best friends, Neville and Gladys, are around to partake in some nostalgic activities. The four are living the high life of limos, private planes, and lots and lots of drugs. None of them seem to realize that a lot can happen in just one short trip, especially when your destination is the city of vices.

In fact, vices are a central theme in the friends' adventures. Despite their mixed backgrounds, Nick and his friends all equally partake in an impressive number of mind-altering substances. They stumble around Las Vegas, fueled by a drug and sex high. The reader is taken along on a ride that starts at a crawl but quickly escalates into a full run. The book reads like a mind-bending dream, seen through Nick's hazy perception of the world. Between trips (both literal and figurative), Nick ponders the nature of Las Vegas, vices, life and death, and even God. Nick's relationships with Raoul and others around him are also on display here, revealing how even the strongest bonds between people can become fleeting in an instant.

The Distance to the End reads like a beginning to a grand adventure in life. It leaves many questions unanswered, but shows promise for future entries about Nick and Raoul.

This review was originally published in The US Review of Books. 

Monday, May 15, 2017

Poetry: The Choice of All Man

The Choice of All Man

That all men are created equal,
that all men are the same—all are one
and so an expression of the same.
That all are experiencing life with similarity:
unaware, unawake, unknowing the true origins
of what we have been born into. That we are
all born into the same situation without control
and live life with the same motivation, to live and
learn and with that experience to learn and grow.
I did not know this. I had to learn this, to use this
in day-to-day dealings with my friends and neighbors.
This empathic mentality, calling it like it is, receiving
what the other emotes and assimilating. I was blind
for the most part. I was secure and well fed. I was
cared for. My sweet rewards, my years of freedom
to grow and cultivate my stakes in this network of
living energy, this net all the same, pulsing, vibrating,
gyrating, the pockets swelled to withering heights, sad
heights that juxtapose the reason to survive.
This cyclical vocation from birth to adulthood and
into death, but given a chance to learn before the
strings that tie us to this plane release their locks
to solid ground and let us drift into a space, a home
a place where the soul has chosen to wait and has
chosen to be found.

The Choice of All Man, written by Michael Aaron Casares, first appeared in Opium Poetry 2.0 in August of 2009.