Book Review: Useful Information for the Soon-to-be Beheaded

Useful Information for the Soon-to-be Beheaded by Shivani Mehta; Press 53, 2013

Warning, this is going to be a rant.

I am in love with Useful Information for the Soon-to-be Beheaded by Shivani Mehta. I was hesitant when agreeing to review a collection of prose poetry, knowing that most prose poetry has surrealist roots, but the simple beauty of many of these poems won me over handedly.

Herein is the problem, I just can’t seem to write a review of a book that I am in love with. I took my time reading this, rereading some of the poems multiple times. As I was reading I kept in mind what I wanted to point out to readers, but I was struck silent. Ms. Mehta has crafted a magical world wrapped up in subtlety, a bit of darkness and humor, while staying relatable. It is a world that I don’t want to leave and I don’t feel capable of fully explaining to someone else. Maybe I brought my own baggage to the book, but the emotion I took from it was personal; I don’t want to rob someone else of that catharsis by supplanting my analysis on to it.

Bottom line, read Useful Information for the Soon-to-be Beheaded. Take in lines like “everything I know of love and its certainty I learned in that contact of blade and flesh,” or “Unable to see, we hear the movement of stars,” or take in the final line of the book (which I won’t spoil here) and be glad you did.

The Dog Eared Count for Useful Information for the Soon-to-be Beheaded:

The Museum, The Man, The Scar, The Butterflies, Family Trait, Natural Selection, Letter to Grandma #5, The Glass-eater, Requiem, The Crash, The Yearning, Last, The Homecoming, The Garden, The Visitors, Useful Information for the Soon-to-be Beheaded, The Mice, The Letters, The Beginning of the End