Though it is not her only interest, There Are No Solid Gold Dancers Anymore suggests that Adrienne Weiss is well on her way to joining the best pop culture writers CanPo has to offer: Jeanette Lynes, David McGimpsey and others who don’t care what they should be writing, but write what they love, what draws them. That’s the joy of writing pop culture, and the joy of reading it in its unbridled disregard for “acceptable Canadian” subject matter.
The book’s strongest section is “Production 1060.” Here, Weiss enters the heads of the main characters in The Wizard of Oz. But she does something so twisty, so fresh, that I was in awe when I finished the piece. She writes the interior monologue of—for instance—the Wicked Witch of the West, not only as the character herself, but also as the actor playing her. The interweaving is seamless and brilliant. The blend makes the reader aware of how the actors in that film are the characters in our minds, how Bert Lahr struggled to exist after playing the Cowardly Lion; how Judy Garland was never able to escape “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” until the day she died; how Auntie Em and the actor playing her become one in a black-and-white whirl of fake tornado and wasted life:
… A good,
Christian woman bears all, her presence an illusion, despite
today’s sun stifling my neck; despite Zeke’s and
Hickory’s and Hunk’s jokes; despite the grey mass
coming to suffocate it all.
I grew up on Solid Gold, a musical variety show of the ‘70s and ‘80s, which showcased hit-makers of the day lip-synching to their hot disco tunes. The Top-10 countdown featured the Solid Gold Dancers as they writhed in high heels and spandex, their movements never quite having anything to do with the lyrics or tone of the snippets of song to which they danced. In the title poem of the collection, Weiss writes:
I toss a quarter, start to walk and think, Who can think of love when it’s hard getting enough out of being alive? Nature tries to cover me like velvet, make everything seem more romantic, but I gotta learn to ignore that shit.
Just as us teenagers who thought the Solid Gold Dancers were—well—dancers, became disillusioned by them in adulthood, Weiss’ speaker blows off those romantic notions:
How stupid we are
For wishing on stars and
How little it means
In the wider scope of things
The absence of the glamour of the faded Solid Gold Dancers, the confused brains of the population of The Wizard of Oz, the stupidity of wishing on stars (and the implied Disneyfication of all that implies), the incongruous dances we all dance, never really matching the music of the world, or even that in our own heads. All of these cohere and add an unexpected sadness and a sense of lost dreams to a collection that more than lives up to its fun, glitzy title.
Kimmy Beach‘s fifth book, The Last Temptation of Bond (The University of Alberta Press) was named as one of the top five poetry Books of the Year for 2013 in Quill & Quire‘s Readers’ Poll.
FIND SOLID GOLD IN ARC.