Abuse, suicide, abandonment, and enough alcoholism to mimic a Bukowski novel, Chad Abushanab’s The Last Visit narrates his troubled past in a series of seemingly chronological scenes, each depicting the aforementioned themes. With the collection standing as an exploration into the depths of human pain, Abushanab leads the expedition with such introspection that it sets an example of bravery for its readers.
Though a poetry collection, The Last Visit reads like a novel. The pieces are narrative and contain lots of concrete detail. Most of them could stand alone and give the reader an understanding of Abushanab’s story, but to read only one poem is like viewing a complex image from just one angle. The poems tell different stories, and take different forms as Abushanab experiments with a variety of poetic vehicles, such as the ode, the ballad, the ghazal, and the elegy. However, they’re all are connected by their themes, which directly relate to his upbringing, as well as his struggles to cope with the scars of his past as an adult. Therefore, upon reading the collection in a linear manner, the reader develops a three-dimensional perspective of his story and family.
If there’s one message The Last Visit sends to its readers, it’s that the answers to the present can be found in the past, but the future is yours to define. Chad Abushanab did a wonderful job creating such an insightful piece of literature. Not only should writers aspire to shine a light at the darkness within themselves to create material the way he does, but readers should adopt similar methods of self-reflection to aid their personal growth.
The Last Visit by Chad Abushanab. Autumn House Press, March 2019.
Review bio: José Jiménez Vivaldi is part of this year’s graduating class at Loyola University Maryland.
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