I came to Hosho through a circuitous path: He and I share space in the special novel-excerpts issue of Sententia magazine, and I loved his prose so much that when I had the opportunity later to make a play for a free copy of one of Hosho's poetry collections in a PoetHound giveaway, I leapt at it -- and, to my great good fortune, won. And Hosho's poetry is just astounding. So weirdly melodious is his language that you sometimes forget how stark and spare his writing can be.
Returning to Hosho's prose in Something That's True was a nice reminder of what he can do with sentences and paragraphs, which is in some ways very similar to his poetry -- so spare and unforgiving -- and in some ways so very different. Something That's True, which reads at first like a throw-back story, some mid-80s Carver knock-off of blue-collar life and broken relationships, is actually a haunting modern morality play, in which the strip-clubber is a suffering saint and the town sheriff is a quiet sort of villain without ever resorting to cliches of corruption or gunplay, and the violence we encounter is a violence of the heart, subtle and more damaging for it.
I've not yet read enough of Hosho's work -- I yearn to read more -- but so far I think perhaps his most defining characteristic as a writer is his ability to sneak up on you, presenting poetry or prose that seems at first so pedestrian you want to take it for granted and then, from the inside, unleashing revelation, heartbreak, insight, and a dozen other emotional onslaughts. He's a stealthy writer. And he's a beautiful writer.
Well worth a read. And when you've finished it, track down more.
(reviewed 21 days after purchase)