Jesús Castillo has created a sprawling contemporary epic that channels the mighty voices of the past (Ovid, Sappho) into a plainspoken song of our times. In a deft, generous style, Castillo takes hold of the stuff of our everyday lives and converts it into modern manna. The book is lovingly relentless, quietly piercing. It is a terrifyingly recognizable call: it is filled with all of our voices, our panic, our modern love, our screens, our roommate’s cough, our melting icebergs, our planes and malls and frailties. Castillo writes,
This is a test. A set of margins created
for company. For waiting in train stations
or asking a stranger the time. You’re allowed
to freak out this much only. There’s a green car
parked outside, by the curb, near the bike racks.
An old man is asking people to put
change in his plastic cup, and I remember
my name contains both my father’s and
grandfather’s stories. The table I’m sitting at
is made of steel and marble. It’s cold and it’s
spring. In the song on the radio, a noise …
You can read our Q&A with Castillo about Remains here.
Praise for Remains:“Riveting complexity and range, and capacious enough to contain multitudes. In a voice both intimate and assured, Castillo makes a discordant music of our present moment. Under the pressure of his impressive intellect, observation brings revelation: ‘Everything feels weary this millennium,’ the poet writes. ‘But today, today will be different.’ An ambitious, innovative first book of epic scope.”