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Reviewed by Asher Syed for Readers' Favorite
Make It a Double: More Poems From my 10-year Bender Inside Heaven's Dive Bar by Randall McNair is the author's collection of original poetry and the second book in the Bar Poems series, preceded by his first book, Dispatches from the Swinging Door Saloon. Broken down into four parts, The Status Quo, The Descent, Death in the Middle, and The Rising, McNair goes all-in with an unapologetic and wholly unfiltered string of free verse poetry. These range in length, tone, and even the occassional layout, with pieces such as Conversations with a Friend taking the unsteady shape of a jumbled stream of consciousness, to poems like Begin Anew, which portrays a wife in the aftermath of her husband's heart attack and the evolution of a normal life, the trolling of emotions, and the witnessing of all from the vantage point of a now omniscient former husband.
Make It a Double is an exceptionally well-crafted collection that solidifies Randall McNair as a master of allegory and verse. The work is profoundly honest and digs deep into the frailty and flaws of man. My favorite is Die Drunk and Alone, wherein the narrator is ruminating on whether or not they will be able to live an honorable life as a homeless man without resorting to violence. It's an incredibly clever piece that really encapsulates the most basic outlook by a person who has given up and resigned themselves to an eventual death after a hard life lived on the street, but one who still has the capacity to hope that their own failure does not harm anyone else. I've read many books of poetry where profanity is used for the sake of shock value, but McNair's collection is among the few where the verses have a stronger punch than any single word used. Overall, this is a fantastic collection. Highly recommended.