Book Review: Cinema, by Helen Rickerby

Available now at selected bookstores. 

Grab your popcorn.cv_cinema_helen_rickerby Adjust your vision to the dim of the theatre. Helen Rickerby is taking us
to the cinema. But this is no standard ninety minute B-grade flick. This is a movie buffet. And Rickerby pans cinematic history, and its people, in her new collection.

Rickerby introduces the cinema as a ‘revolution’, conquering ‘distance and memory’, bringing about the annihilation of time. In Cinema, time can be travelled and situations rehashed. Characters can be transformed into ‘wittier, more stylish’ versions of themselves. Yet Cinema‘s characters ‘do not think, (they) are thought’, and their fates are governed by their directors – the likes of Kubrick, Malick, Lynch and Campion.

Cinema is an Escher-scape, where recursion is the crux of reflection, where one might announce, ‘this is myself, playing myself playing myself’ or ‘I have glasses over my glasses’. Hidden meanings lurk beneath objects. ‘A bathroom means a closed door, a sanctuary, asylum…’. Objects are not all they seem – ‘her mirror is her mother’. People change form to become flowers.

Cinema straddles the line between fiction and reality. Narrators may be unwittingly deceitful and the reader may ask ‘Can the people be trusted? Can he trust himself’. It is a place wherein doppelgängers prowl, spontaneous combustion may or may not happen, and an ‘anteater of self-doubt’ may land upon the unsuspecting.

Rickerby’s world is at once compelling and absurd. One gets the feeling one is not in Kansas anymore. As Rickerby’s poem, ‘New Worlds’, suggests – ‘this is a strange place, a foreign land’.

Strange as this place Rickerby takes us to may be, there is entertainment beyond the discombobulation. Rickerby’s poem, ‘This is the way the world ends’, articulates this perfectly:

‘This story is about remembering
and forgetting

Not knowing where you are
or if it’s real

But you can die with a martini in your hand’.

Reviewed by Elizabeth Morton

Cinema
by Helen Rickerby
Published by Makaro Press
ISBN 9780473276485

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