Review: Ruby True
5 ½” x 7 3/4” Saddle-stapled, high-gloss, full-color chapbook
Liverpool, England, United Kingdom
Review originally published on 4/2/15
Ruby True, the character that is the collection’s namesake, is a wanderer. She weaves in and out of lives and relationships like she doesn’t know what the word home means. Perl gives us Ruby in bits and pieces through these blunt poems. Ruby draws you in with easy, sad charm. Almost all the time we spend with her is tragic, but still, we want to see more of her. We want more of her stories:
After he left, she brushed out the wig,
threw the black sheath dress, reeking
of sweat and cum, into the bathtub,
climbed in with it. Coriander and Coltrane.
She thought back to Berkeley.
Why do they always fall in love?
(from “Homebound,” p. 11)
The collection starts off slow, introducing us to Ruby True and her vagrant life. Once we have a sense of her, though, she entices us to keep turning the pages. While most poems are from Ruby’s perspective, some are from her friends’ and lovers’, giving us a multi-dimensional view of this unsettled woman’s life. It’s difficult sometimes to separate the writer of her creation because Ruby True is also a writer:
They spent New Year’s Eve together. Five years later,
he’s married and she’s still writing about it.
She’s already had the best sex she’s ever going to have. The bar
has fallen to the floor; she trips over it getting out of bed.
(from “Lowering The Bar — Ruby Remembers,” p. 30)
Perl’s voice is strong and direct like someone you could trust with your heart. Her words grab you, but aren’t seeking shock value. She’s mastered the art of speaking vulgarly without sounding vulgar, a commendable talent. Her dark humor helps the process along. The pages are filled with sex, drugs, and loneliness, so while it’s not necessarily a feel-good book, it’s definitely a book that will make you feel.