"These limber, overcaffeinated poems spring off the page like Olympic athletes, their motto not 'Faster, Higher, Stronger' but 'Smarter, Funnier, Wiser.' The stadium in which they run and leap is plastered with road signs, biblical misprints, anagrams, McFaddenisms of every kind. And everywhere, cups of precious metal, ones from which the reader will drink again and again."
—David Kirby, author of The House on Boulevard St.: New and Selected Poems
"In its approach to subject matter, the poetry of Kevin McFadden recalls that of those hard-boiled chroniclers of the American scene, writers such as Kenneth Fearing and Karl Shapiro. Yet the swiftness of McFadden's poems and their supercharged associative thinking make these earlier writers seem like dial-up to McFadden's DSL. I love the ambition, quirkiness, and technical brio of these poems. Hardscrabble is a singular debut."
"This debut showcases a wild and powerful wit in action."
"We've all heard of brain food, and the debut book of poems from Kevin McFadden . . . is a full-course meal for the gray matter. One of a handful of books in the new Virginia Quarterly Review Poetry Series, Hardscrabble offers pun after home-cooked pun, and the result is a satisfying saturation. Informally divided into three courses by a 28-page riff of a prose poem, Hardscrabble wrings us through a whiplash-quick examination of language in all its elements—sound, structure, and sense—and leaves us full and reeling. And, like many a delicious home-cooked meal, the main course is so rich in texture we can almost forgive the way it makes our middles sag . . . Unlike many contemporary poets, it is through McFadden's work and wit, rather than a spirit of personal revelation, that we are able to savor these poems."
—Laura Eve Engel, C-ville, Charlottesville News & Arts
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