God of Missed Connections

T.S. Eliot wrote that “the progress of an artist is a continual self sacrifice, a continual extinction of personality.” In her God of Missed Connections, Elizabeth Bachinsky initially gives the reader a great deal of her personality — localized particulars from her own life, and what often seem like in-jokes. My first impression was that readers who aren’t immediately related to the author had little to be engaged with in this book. However, as the collection progresses it also gains in momentum, and begins to be reminiscent of another seminal Eliot text, “The Waste Land,” in its attempt to make the presentness of the past palpable. Bachinsky’s book coheres most soundly in the overtly historical sections; the missed connections of our lives, blood, family and the Ukrainian immigrant experience of uprooting and disconnection. Such historical details force the work into focus as the book progresses and gels into a theme. In God of … Bachinsky doesn’t use language playfully or materially. It is language packed with narrative information, politics and expletives. I enjoyed the poem in which she describes herself having sex with her husband. On the following page she writes, “Why must I write about my lovemaking?/ So that I might remember it.” Such personal particulars continually resurface and contextualize the deluge of information. The conjectural imagery — such as her preferred sexual position — merges with historical particulars (even as banal as time of day or the weather) to create a density of information and scope that is presented with clarity. Divisions of sections are brief, like flashes or afterthoughts, like an imaged brain scan sending signals to various organs; some activate and some fire noisily but without effect. God of … suggests a disjointed meta-journal or post-coital blog that feels like an accurate and honest portrait of a mind and body moving through space. It is a suburban tour of an information wasteland of Bachinsky’s making. She writes: “Whatcreature slouches through/the yard so late at night?/ Anthropomorphism/ I say, is a dangerous business.” In God of Missed Connections, Bachinsky gives us the updated image of what slouches toward Bethlehem — today amidst “chip bags and beer bottles and cell phones.” (Mat Laporte)

by Elizabeth Bachinsky, $17.95, 80 pgs, Nightwood Editions, Box 1779, Gibsons, BC, V0N 1V0, nightwoodeditions.com