The Day the World Ends, by Ethan Coen

The Day the World Ends, by Ethan Coen

Title: The Day the World Ends
Author: Ethan Coen
Pages: 128
Originally Published: 2012
Publisher: Crown Publishing Group (Random House)

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I received this book for free from the publisher. All content and opinions are my [brother’s] own.

My brother, of Bitchin’ Film Reviews, is a movie blogger. So, when I had the opportunity to review the poetry collection of filmmaker Ethan Coen (of the Coen brothers), he agreed to do a guest review. His review appears below.

Attaining a certain level of success in one’s chosen field occasionally gives one the freedom to try their hand at other crafts. Tom Ford took a break from fashion to direct Colin Firth in A Single Man. Madonna apparently writes books for children. And Bjork stops her full-time career of being weird to put out an album every now and then. These efforts are always met with a varying degree of success. While I am a fan of A Single Man, I couldn’t stomach the one book of Madonna’s I tried to read. Ethan Coen, brother and co-director to Joel, has enjoyed a very successful film career, and now has tried his hand at poetry, by releasing The Day the World Ends, 120 pages of poetry and extremely dirty limericks.

There are admittedly very few poetry books on my shelves. My exposure to the genre is limited to two undergrad courses of Russian classic poetry and a childhood spent listening to Shel Silverstein’s books read aloud. That being said, I am not the biggest fan of Mr. Coen’s poetry. There are exceptions, of course. One in particular is a rambling two page ode to a woman endowed with a sizable rear end, and one Ethan takes great pleasure in worshiping with his words. An excerpt:

Oh yes you have a whole lot of ass, woman,
Oh big-ass woman,
And you sling it down the street walking, walking your ass, your
own ass and no one else’s?
And it rolls and thuds along, twin crumpling beach balls,
clomping rear tires,
Flip-flopping ass, walk-slamming ass, wham-bam ass pile-driving . . .

I’ll admit, There’s a pleasing rhythm there, a playful way with his words. I enjoyed giving an enthusiastic reading of it to my sister and brother-in-law. And, yes, it’s funny.

Then there are those poems that seem to have no clear meaning and seem to be of no consequence at all. Here’s one in its entirety called “But, Why?”:

You stand without
To look within;
To come home, leave;
To end, begin.

It’s pleasant enough, but indicative of how inconsequential the whole collection felt to me. The Day the World Ends might be appreciated as something to lay around on the coffee table of a home with no children (serious, if you think The Big Lebowski had rough language, peruse his limericks section). However, I think it’s safe to recommend Ethan keep his day job.