October 2015

Gabino Iglesias

poetry

The Incoming Tide by Cameron Pierce

Cameron Pierce's The Incoming Tide, is one of the most important books of his career thus far, and a heavy contender for any best books list of 2015. Not too bad for a book that can be read in half an hour. A combination of microfiction, something akin to journal entries, lists, and poems make up this tiny book that packs a huge punch. Somewhat of a companion/follow-up/extension of his previous collection, Our Love Will Go The Way Of The Salmon, this new release, which follows the previous one very closely, is at once thematically linked to its predecessor and a different collection that stands on its own and that seems to point to a new era in Pierce's work.

Pierce is a man in love with his family, language, fishing, beer, discovery, and life. While that can be said of a plethora of authors, few can transfer that feeling onto the page as successfully as Pierce does. The stories and poems in The Incoming Tide all share a voice, a tone that points to carpe diem as an effectively applied way of life instead of just a popular saying. With humor and a heartwarming touch of brutal honesty, almost every piece of poetry or prose in this collection represents a piece of the author's reality, hopes, or thoughts, and the result is an incredibly tender and unexpectedly funny book that constantly shifts between stories that reflect the author's affection for bizarro fiction and celebrations of nature, which carry a strange elegance that reads like a cross between Matsuo Bashō and Rick Bass:

Tadpoles suckle on our toes.

Songololo, dark flesh spiral,
coils at the lip of an antbear hole.

Skyward, the skeleton hands of aliens
tremble in the hot afternoon.

A green snake parts the lily pads.

While Our Love Will Go The Way Of The Salmon was full of fiction, The Incoming Tide retains the weirdness offered by its precursor but does away with most of the fiction. The beauty of the writings offered here comes from two places: the author's knack for evocative, emotional language that's easy to process, and the fact that he writes about his family, passions, and himself with the uninhibited zest and curiosity of a child and the writing talent of a seasoned veteran who has dipped his toes in a wide variety of genres.

Likewise, there are passages in the book in which Pierce has a conversation with himself and allows the reader to tag along like an old friend and witness his imagination in action:

Tidewater's always got this decaying sea smell about it, and when you walk out on the mud flats during low tide, your boots sink down into the muck. If you spend a day around tidewater, you end up smelling like that decay yourself for a day or so. I don't know. I kind of like it. If ever K sat me down one day and said, "You've grown your fins and gills now. It's time to go live in the sea," then I think I'd live in tidewater over anywhere else. There are sea monsters in the sea, river monsters in the rivers, lake monsters in the lakes, and Bigfoot pees in all the creeks around here. That means tidewater is the only safe place to be. Who ever heard of a tidewater monster? Hell, maybe I could be the first.

Despite its short length, The Incoming Tide is a very complete book. From fishing and drinking to sharing memories and the thoughts of a young man entering fatherhood for the first time, what Pierce grants readers in this collection is, more than a window into his life, an open door invitation into his heart and soul. Taking him up on the offer results in a wonderful experience.

The Incoming Tide by Cameron Pierce
Broken River Books
ISBN: 978-1940885308
88 pages