This is a book of poems by a man who has very obviously figured out the formula for casual speech, reconstructed it in his own manic way, and added a few pounds of both humor and serious commentary in the process. Smiles of the Unstoppable is a strange, unique collection that is narrative-driven and conversational. The words are not poetic in nature, really, but the flow, the careful repetitions, and the masterful line-breaks are evidence of a language-commander being behind the helm. The humor pulls the collection together. My favorite bit of humor is towards the end of the book, in a poem called “Night of the Jaguar,” in which Bredle lists a bunch of characteristics people share with jaguars:
We both bite directly through the skull of our prey.
We both enjoy swimming.
We both range from Paraguay to Mexico.
We're both compact and well-muscled, with robust heads and powerful
We both reach sexual maturity at three to four years of age.
We both practice aggression avoidance behavior.
We're both the national animal of Guyana.
With this humor, Jason Bredle tricks the reader into letting down his or her guard before gutting in with deep thoughts that question average lives. Real, deep thoughts on society that sneak their way into the poems. In “Clouds,” the reader gets a look at commentary on judgments and classifications of people through very innate things, like the liking of mashed potatoes:
That was the day
someone called me an elitist fuckwad for liking mashed potatoes.
But they're the perfect side and I dare you to challenge that notion!
That was the day
someone called you
an independently wealthy Marxist poseur
for wearing a reindeer sweater.
I'd been heightening my love of mashed potatoes
to a level of parody
to illustrate a point I've since forgotten.
Bredle also has mastered a unique style of narrative which involves starting with a line and then twisting it to become a thought or a quote, changing the entire meaning or weight of the statement. He is active in this twisting and turning, with both his strange narrative and his usually subtle use of repetition, and this acts as a lasso which Bredle has the reader roped in. Smiles of the Unstoppable is a fun, refreshing ride into the mind of a poet who has a lot to say about the world, and does so with mastered techniques of narrative.