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'Nothing to See Here' by Gabriel Hart

A Chapbook Review

By Keats RossPublished 6 years ago 3 min read
Gabriel Hart of Jail Weddings and The Starvations

There’s a timbre that kicks and spits throughout Gabe Hart’s city-boy-death-knell, Nothing to See Here, his new "novelette" (chapbook?). It rumbles in a plaintive prose akin to the mid-tempo reflections of the outlaw country music of yesteryear. Similarly, he's gifted with an almost unnerving plain-speak, wrought with the rough and tumble of crooked Americana. And like all good country music, NTSH yearns for some sort of redemptive resolve. It’s fitting, then, that this testimonial rhythm would birth from a crooner-come-author such as Hart.

When he's not the the frontman for the notorious neo-noir ensemble Jail Weddings, he spends his days drifting in the desert winds of his newfound home of the Morongo Valley, the setting for NTSH.

Hart's own LA purge seems to have shellac'd the confines of his new literary works. Whether it's the torrid concrete jungle of LA or the dark desert dunes of the Morongo Valley, Hart further explores the seediness of the California underbelly. It's a journey that is sometimes hilarious horror-show, sometimes metaphysical ramble. Truly, a whole new mess of folly is found in Hart's, err, "Conor's" new life.

Conor and Luna stew in the novelette’s vignettes throughout these few pages. The couple battles the Morongo yokels and desert folk (think Crazy Randy or Confederate Casper) as they shimmy into their digs. However, these new adversaries often reveal to be harrowing ghosts of Connor and Luna's possible future in Morongo. Therefore, these desert rambles reveal a union in shambles...

“The two of us have never tried harder to make something work in our whole lives, so that counts for something. Us against the world! But since we are both OF the world, it is often us against ourselves as well.”

If Cinema of Life was the anti-tourism propaganda Hart proclaimed it was, then Nothing to See Here is its harrowing after-burn. There's a gnawing revelation that perhaps Conor and Luna's exodus is a harrowing mess after all. Their transmutation into Morongo locals is a sordid, Kafkaesque affair (forgive the term) as they find themselves in the dark innards of an American dream, just not theirs. And maybe, just maybe, it ain't the desert at fault here.

Readers will no doubt draw the parallels between Conor and Hart’s own pilgrimage to Morongo, and that's intended. Initially, one might believe that shifting from being the leader of a rock 'n roll gang in Echo Park to a solemn writer's respite in the high desert was an antithetical journey for Hart. However, it has revealed itself to be the perfect evolution of his folklore. From the noir of the city to the desolation of the desert, there is an eclipse of an artist's phase into, or under, another.

“In the city, your obstacles take the form of the monsters that people have become as a result from living in the city.In the desert, your obstacles are purely elemental - the weather, the landscape, therefore you will never have full control."

Hart won't reveal how close the parallels truly are... he dare not say. But that makes it all the more riveting. Hart continues to burn and blur the lines of reality and fiction in an effervescent, and radiant, resolution. It's one helluva fine taste tickler for a larger testament of fiction(?) that is forthcoming.

I recently interviewed Hart for my PRAGMAGICK podcast and we discussed his creative process, a process which we says stems from "SAUDADE," a Portuguese term that, according to Wikipedia, is "a deep emotional state of nostalgic or profound melancholic longing for an absent something or someone that one loves. Moreover, it often carries a repressed knowledge that the object of longing might never return."

Listen below.

-Revel Rosz 8/18

Purchase Nothing to See Here from Space Cowboy Books.

Gabriel Hart/ website

Jail Weddings /music

@Wiltededen /twitter

@jailweddings / instagram

Space Cowboy Books / Publisher


About the Creator

Keats Ross

Forever the ne'er-do-well, naysayer and rogue, Rosz is a personified contradiction: a nefarious romantic, pugilist conspirator, criminal poet and druggy mystic with a newfound quest to share the whimsical cautionary tales of his past.

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