A first book from a poet in which each poem is a novel.
An amazing book that effortlessly poem by poem adds up to a novel. Unsparing vision of all the characters in the poet's childhood and adulthood that is nevertheless suffused with a love of humanity. With almost as few words as possible, Schaeffer conveys a world of meaning and abundance of detail, telling his outrageous stories. They are colorful, earthy, perceptive, empathic and brilliant. His intense realism lifts into the visionary: The coffin lid flew open / Her body so light / She lifted into the air / A white sheet escaping a clothesline. He mourns Aunt Helen "the last of the gang," but not before he immortalizes each and every one of them. His parents become as familiar to us as our own. Twin cameos: Dad Talking Honestly to Mom; Mom Talking Honesty to Dad. These poems were all written the year following the death of his mother who he misses: I want to call . . . . Tell you I’m worried about something.
”In Paul Schaeffer’s debut collection, THE CRUELTIES OF BROOKLYN, we are introduced to the ultimate quirky tribe; their foibles, their actions are so outrageous you both laugh with delight and weep. We see through adolescent eyes a mind-blowing panorama of Brooklyn, its cruelties, and its pleasures. Schaeffer’s spectacular poetic voice is by turns sardonic, impassioned, darkly comic, and wise. His narrator, the last of the gang, reveals with brutal honesty the complex relationships with his parents whom he renders with such precision that they are turned to myth. Schaeffer has a genius for saying just enough.” — Stephanie E. Dickinson, author of Blue Swan Black Swan: The Trakl Diaries
” Paul Schaeffer’s dry, droll, deadpan voice takes us on a tour of 1970’s New York (real diners, real bullies) with a cinematic eye. Relive the love/horror of childhood/adolescence. We meet “the crew”: vivid, narrative poems hypnotize the reader. We follow the poet into adulthood, as the crew ages and makes the final journey to Beth Moses cemetery in West Babylon, the poet becoming chief mourner. This compelling collection is a guidebook to a disappearing Brooklyn, the place and people that shaped one writer’s unflinching eye.” — Marcia Loughran, author of My Mother Never Died Before
”The poems in Paul Schaeffer’s first poetry collection, THE CRUELTIES OF BROOKLYN, instruct us in how to mourn and endure our living through the voice of one who remembers and sings the memory of the lives of those now gone, those who loved him. And yet, Schaeffer does not dwell in sorrow and grief – “Life isn’t suffering”… at least not completely. There is joy here, too. “We are even ok with less than nothing/ Even less contains a drop,” I’m thankful Schaeffer tells us, “That drop nourishes us/ We learn to love it so much.” — Curtis Bauer, author of American Selfie
Paul Schaeffer is a native New Yorker, born in Brooklyn. He has an MFA from Sarah Lawrence College and an MPA from New York University. Paul is a certified yoga instructor and daily meditation practitioner. He works as the Director of Administration at the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene Public Health Laboratory; the laboratory conducts critical clinical and environmental testing to keep the City safe. Paul is married to Lorena from Buenos Aires and has two children, Lucas and Hannah. This is his first book.