"Per Contra Reviews" - The Rorschach Factory by Valerie Fox

Arlene Ang for Per Contra Reviews

“Asleep,” a haunting and eloquent poem explores ghosts—that of the murdered body of a woman found at the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean—captivatingly introduces the last section, “Unrest”:


                                If she falls to


            sleep again she will be fated

                        to wake up over and over


            to “Beth” or “Anne”

                        and in the first snow


            she will die without

                        flowers or words.


On a lighter note, in “Life at the Rorschach Factory”, a Napoleon impersonator confesses:


            I do love my work. I love people.

I’m a people person.


It is amazing how these words shine throughout this collection—because Fox herself is a “people person.” Here she presents us Emma Goldman asking “the man in safety/ yellow pants for a light”, a Baptist missionary who adopts children in Africa to fill the emptiness of her life, Tennessee Williams “pedaling ‘apocalypse without delirium’ off the road map” and even St. Marguerite, patron saint of women with eating disorders.


The last poem, “In the front seat” wonderfully encapsulates The Rorschach Factory:


                        There are times when you have to tell a story so

                        I tell one, leaving out the names and dates

                        and you get to the part about something under

                        a blanket and everything makes sense.


There is a certain zing about this collection that charms the reader, a particular fusion of the bizarre, the flamboyant with rum truisms and street smarts. In this collection Fox shares various tales and insights, oftentimes lightly told, but on closer inspection glimmer with fascinating depth. Reading The Rorschach Factory is listening to an offbeat drummer march the rhythm on what it means to be human. This is a book to savor again and again.


The Rorschach Factory

Valerie Fox

Straw Gate Books

86 pages

ISBN: 0-9773786-4-0



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Per Contra Winter 2006-2007