‘Mortality Rate is a book I found hard to put down. Ignoring the boundaries between essay, fiction, film, and verse, it subverts expectations – except the expectation of clear writing. Reading it can feel like following an endless trail of hyperlinks through the woods of the internet. Its world is destabilizing, exhilarating, and addictive.’
– Beverley Bie Brahic, Boston Review (full review here)
I was rummaging in a bin in Berlin –
it’s a thing that I did, I liked it –
when I noticed, under everything, a briefcase.
Someday you will be there, in bed with a woman,
when the telephone rings and it’s your dentist.
This happens more often the older you get
and yet it’s never something that is easy to accept.
The heat was like an elephant in the room: it stood there only adding to the heat.
We called up New York zoo. When the man asked, Asian? African?, our silence
must’ve told him all he needed to know.
Amy is sitting in bed wearing nothing apart from a monocle
which she’d picked up for nothing or the next best thing
in a thrift store and thought of as so very Neue Sachlichkeit
when Sabrina comes crawling from the closet
Many things have come to pass which I will never understand,
not least among them my father who came from outer space
to find my mother in the corner of a field, milking the cow –
As one line begets the next, as an image begets a character begets an entire history or future, Andrew Elliott’s poems – many of them proliferating excursions into the hinterlands of 20th-century Germany and America, many involving girls, cars and spaceships by way of paintings, films and books – continually divert and confound the reader; they suggest that there may be pleasures to be had from not seeing the wood for the trees.
‘The collection is huge, 144 pages full of outpouring and urgency as if after too long a silence. Through torrents of words and absurd, surreal situations, however, there is always a controlling blade-edge of wit ... I would recommend this book wholeheartedly. It is huge and does feel a bit overstuffed – “The plot has been lost. Who lost it? Hard to say –” is the first line in “Plot”, but a narrative trail would be too reductive for these poems. They are rich and funny and sad, and, full of peculiar treasures, deserve to be read and read again.’
– Pippa Little, Elsewhere
‘It’s a whopper of a collection, weighing in at a hundred and fifty pages of poems that start in one place and wind the reader along in their ever-deepening syntax until there’s no way out and you’re spat out at the bottom of a page as if at the end of a funfair ride ... These are stories with grit, wit and a sense of life’s futile comedy.’
– Katy Evans-Bush, Poetry London
‘Mortality Rate contains an abundance of the kind of pieces that are really half poem, half something else. The something else in this case is seedy, surreal, almost noir-ish microfiction, taking place at night, in cities and liminal spaces, in Europe and America. Long, loping lines abound, sex is handled in a kind of rough, frank way, and the same pair of female characters turn up in multiple poems, stripped to various states. It’s a very generous volume, written mostly in a voice that delights in taking winding detours. Highly recommended for quiet winter nights with a whisky.’
– Jon Stone, Sidekick Books
‘Where to begin? “I was standing on the Avenue of the Americas, / there where Bleecker buckles, by the door of American Apparel / which I had recently read was in trouble and which / may well be long gone now you read this (for might a poem / not survive the crisis of itself?)” That’s the opening of “Late Capitalism”, and it’s characteristic of Andrew Elliott’s way of accelerating through a poem by accretion and association. His subjects are everything and, by virtue of that, nothing – as if to demonstrate that the 21st-century mind will feast on anything it knows, proclaiming process an end in itself, rather than subscribe to the old teleologies ... Ciaran Carson has compared Pynchon and Calvino. They’re as good a place as any to begin.’
– Michael Hulse, Warwick Review
The lines quoted above are examples of how the poems open. For how they continue, you need the book.