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Review: Quarantine :: Contagion, by Brian Henry

Brian Henry's new book consists of a long double poem called Quarantine::Contagion. Set at some mysterious, ill-defined moment in time - perhaps during the Middle Ages, it is a compulsively readable dramatic monologue which swims in and out of comprehensibility. Told in the first person, by a man lying beside a river, who may or may not be dead, its numbing,relentless manner of delivery puts you in mind of Beckett. Lines seem to overlap and echo each other. Yet it is not modishly grim. In fact, the entire sequence, as it builds and builds, is extraordinarily gripping - in spite of the fact that we proceed through it as if feeling our way through a chilling fog, unaware of our destination, unsure even of the ground beneath our feet.