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So Cool    by Dennis Lee order for
So Cool
by Dennis Lee
Order:  USA  Can
Key Porter, 2004 (2004)
* * *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

Dennis Lee, author of subversive kids' poetry collections like Alligator Pie and Garbage Delight, gives us something different in So Cool, which reveals male teen angst from the inside out.

Some, such as the title poem, 'So Cool', have to do with the body you have versus the body you want. Feel the good times in 'High Summer' with its 'sun like a honey rubdown / coating your face and skin, till you slowly remember / what bodies are for.' Feel the bad times in 'The House of Alone' and 'The Shame' (when 'I joined in the trash brigade'). And feel those times when you're disconnected from it all in 'The Other Place' - 'Do you sometimes feel like you're / gone, / gone, /gonzo in the brain?'

The poignant 'Red Rover' and funny 'Inspector Dogbone', celebrate man's best friend. 'To My Friend, the Total Loser' captures the essence of (male) friendship. 'What I Learned in Math Today' shouts out awakening feelings for the female of the species. 'Quiz' and 'Deeper' ('Deeper. You must go further. You must go deeper') each incorporate a philosophy of life. And 'Dorks from Outer Space' and 'French Kissing with Gum in Your Mouth' are just plain funny.

Remember the intensity of the teen years? Read So Cool and they'll all come back to you. And if you're still living them now, these verses will speak directly to your experience.

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