Dear Miss B
By Dominic Albanese
Review by Julie Carpenter
When I visited Poetic Justice Books and Arts in Port St. Lucie over the holidays, I had the pleasure of meeting Dominic Albanese. (If you haven’t read it yet, check out this interview with him that Jeff Weddle wrote for Sacred Chickens.) Dominic is a poet, an animated conversationalist, and a force of nature. Dear Miss B is his first book of prose, an homage to his junior high school English teacher, who nurtured his love of reading and writing and helped him open up new areas of thought about himself and the world around him. The book takes the form of memories from his childhood through early adulthood, interspersed with the letters he wrote Miss B. from Vietnam, where he ended up as a troubled sixteen-year-old when he joined the army (after a little subterfuge about his age).
The beauty of the book lies in both the sheer excitement of the narrative and its beautifully stream of consciousness tumble of memories and words. It reads like a long prose poem. Like his poetry, his prose feels raw and fresh, as though he’s not afraid to raid his own soul and expose his life just as he remembers it, just as it comes to him. Albanese’s writing is both simple and complicated; he’s not afraid to use whole phrases as adjectives when necessary, or switch tenses on a dime to make his memories as real to the reader as they are to himself. But there’s no attempt to distance himself from his past by careful word choice or academic interjections. What the reader sees in this book is the writer exposed. He is brutally honest with himself, his fears, his shortcomings and triumphs. We see in his writing what Miss B. must have seen, a born poet.
Albanese sees the poetry in everyday life, from learning Morse code in the army to his work in a garage where he says, “There is a wonderful language to it all. Top Dead Center, so many degrees before or after, the way the cam moves the tappets to open and close the valves.” This book is both a poetic autobiography and a tribute to the woman who saw the poetry in his soul. For those readers who are already fans and his future fans, this book is worth the read!
Julie graduated from Tennessee Weslyan with a BA in English Literature, and she has an MA from University of Memphis in Professional Writing. She was accepted to the Writer’s Hotel in 2016 and 2017, serving as as a teaching assistant in 2017. Julie is a Pushcart nominee for “Letter to Essie” in the New Guard Anthology VII, and has published four stories at Fiction on the Web. She will have a short story collection , Things Get Weird in Whistlestop, published with Poetic Justice Press later this year. She is currently working on a novel called “Last Train Out of Hell.” She can be often be found blogging here on the Sacred Chickens website along with her cats, Uncle Morty and Jarad. (Actually, the cats don't blog. They're amazingly lazy.)