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Reviewed by Rich Follett for Readers' Favorite
Inside a String by Tom MacLear is a poetry lover’s dream come true: fun, insightful, touching, nostalgic, inventive and impeccably crafted. This superlative collection is a reverent and masterful paean to the Beat generation and Beat poets in general – Kerouac, Ginsberg, and Burroughs would read this manuscript with closed eyes and a blissful expression, swaying gently to remembered rhythms and soundscapes. The ‘beat’ in this case is a staccato, joyful tattoo, simultaneously uplifting and perfectly on time and in step. From “Half Moon Bay”: Waves in random rhythm/announce the ocean upon the bow/Like words surfacing/like spirits from the deep ...”
The single word that best describes this remarkable collection is ‘ebullient.’ MacLear has crafted a celebration of words and rhythms, splayed in careless ecstasy across the pages like a punk with a heart of gold who has just rolled out of bed, at once dust-covered and ready to conquer the world, armed only with ideals and chutzpah. Even in melancholy moments, Inside a String is infused with a hopeful insouciance that cannot hope but coax a smile from the most cynical of readers. From “Rebirth”: Let the fire burn/let the overgrowth cinder/For the smoke will rise/and fill our wonder_ And the flowers will grow/from the ashes once more.”
Inside a String by Tom MacLear is utterly irresistible and heartwarming from first word to last without ever once being maudlin or mawkish. It is a triumphant celebration of a movement unparalleled for freedom and free-thinking artistic expression. We may never be able to regain the innocence and vigor of the Beat generation but, thanks to MacLear’s devoted discipleship and eloquent tribute, we can live within it for one more day.