Cover Image: Normal Distance

Normal Distance

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Member Reviews

There’s a lot to like in NORMAL DISTANCE, and if you’re a reader who appreciates humor and levity mixed in with poetic streams-of-consciousness, this is a collection I would recommend to you.

Unfortunately, I am not that specific kind of reader. There are a lot of funny one-liners in this collection, but for me they seemed contrived. It’s as if Gabbert has taken observations of the human condition and specifically aimed at making them meme-able. Maybe this is an unfair standard, but things I would probably chuckle at on social media were grating here, in this quantity. They felt relentless.

But, I am going to be obnoxious and share a few lines that I really did like, just not in this context. They are lines I could just as easily expect to see on a viral list on social media alongside things like, “Did you know Cleopatra lived closer in time to the moon landing than the building of the pyramids?”

“Bad news: You can’t  / actually save time. You’ll just use it to do /  something else.”

“All / my imagined futures have turned into / memories. / Today, there’s more past than yesterday. / But is there any less future?”

“It takes a special kind of mediocrity to be offensive and boring at the same time.”

“Before we are born, we exist even less than / after we die.”

However, there are a few moments that stand out to me that don’t seem to have “laugh, please” as their purpose. Gabbert does successfully identify vague feelings that feel familiar, and these moments were gratifying.

“The vagueness of the moment / Has a crispness in memory”

“Driving, alone, at night, with music Is / safe.”

“Sometimes, during a period of dread, I / momentarily forget the thing I’m dreading, / but continue to feel the dread.”

“I think we expect too much of people, / who are mostly suffering and confused. / I think we make the mistake of thinking / that “history” is truer than experience is true.”

NORMAL DISTANCE did also cause me to look quite a few things up, such as liquid ants, which is a pretty cool thing- so I recommend you also search for liquid ants, and I will recommend this collection of poems with reservations. I think this book is best read in very small chunks.

Thanks so much for the review copy!
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DNF. I have been reading this book for MONTHS, and it's really short. I just couldn't get into it. The poems, which are more like notes app scrawlings, weren't good enough to hold my attention. I would enjoy a line every now and then, but life's too short to dig for a diamond in the rough, in my opinion. Wish it was punched up. I like this author, though, and I don't want to be mean because I really do think she's talented. This just didn't do it for me.
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This was not for me. I did not connect with it and it just was not for me. I thought the writing was insightful and thoughtful.
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Little more than journal entries strung together and passed off as poetry. That would be OK if there were some depth to these jottings. Instead, her thoughts on death, solitude, time and the nature of the universe are banal when they are not contradictory.  
Check Normal Distance out of a library if you want to peruse it.  But if you spend money for this little volume, you will probably feel cheated.
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I enjoyed this collection of poetry. The style felt very stream-of-consciousness in a way that felt reminiscent of the time many of us spent isolated and bored during the beginning of the pandemic in 2020. It was a boredom suffused with an undercurrent of anxiety and maybe even a little mania. These poems read like thoughts. Chaotic. Sometimes frivolous and absurd., sometimes emotive and cutting. It's interesting how the poet was able to let down that wall between her thoughts (I presume) and the reader.
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I loved Elisa Gabbert's book of essays but I couldn't relate as much to this book of poetry. It had moments that redeemed it a bit but, overall, it wasn't spectacular for me. The cover is stunning and the concept of the book is intriguing. I would still read another book she releases in the future.
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This was one of the first poetry collections I have read, and I have to say I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed it. This book is simply just a collection of random thoughts and provoking ideas strung together in loose and transparent stanzas and poems. Some of the imagery and descriptions Gabbert used went over my head. However, some poems and stanzas felt incredibly hard-hitting and I related to their general premise. Overall, the book felt accessible and easy to flip through. For my first poetry book, I can’t truly review it since I am not sure what I am supposed to review. For the most part, it was enjoyable, and I am excited and intrigued to dive more into this genre.
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Thank you to NetGalley and Catapult, Counterpoint Press, and Soft Skull Press for the ARC. 

This volume of poems from Elisa Gabbert feel like what runs through your brain each night as you're trying to fall asleep. You ponder one of life's mysteries or a question or thought that you had and let your stream of conscious guide you through a web of interconnected questions and thoughts.. My favorite of this collection, I Don't Want to Hear Any Good News or Bad News is a great example of Gabbert letting her brain guide her through. 

Enjoyed these poems very much and loved that they were running along the same theme. It felt complete.
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Thank you Netgalley and publisher for the arc in exchange of honest review.
It is very rare for me to read poetry, but i thoroughly enjoyed reading it.

"It’s not my hands that are shaking— it’s my mind. Cut off my head! That’s where the pain lies."
Loved it!!
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I really enjoyed these poems about perspective and depth.  Eagerly delved into them and find myself thinking about them a lot after I was finished.
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This is my ideal kind of book, or close to it. I am in love with the lyric essay, and this is a tiny step away from it--little poems that are made of prose sentences that are thoughtful and sometimes exquisite.

For instance:

"My brother knows how to make a chair from the little wire cage on a bottle of champagne.

I find it hard to throw away the wire when I know there’s a chair inside.

A chair my brother would have made, which would make it worth saving.

I find it hard to throw out flowers, which were dead on arrival."


"I’m kind of interested in people using two stars to mean “I got bored and didn’t finish it.”

I don’t trust books that aren’t a little boring.

It’s almost like there should be different words for “boring because simple” and “boring because complex.”

“Boring because complex” isn’t actually boring, it can just be mistaken for boring, the way a hangover can be mistaken for guilt."

These poems unstrand like this, and we get to follow along with Gabbert's thoughts and even if that isn't where our own thoughts would have gone, we trust that we're trotting along beside or behind her, and we'll end up somewhere pleasant or at least nod along and think, yes.

As I'm reading, I think: has she written essays? Because I'd sure love to read some of her essays. Take these strands and make them a little longer. And sure enough, she has, and I cannot wait to read more.

Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for an advance reading copy in exchange for an honest review!
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I rarely find myself reading poetry, for some reason I just have never been someone who can get into it, but this book was nothing less then wonderful. I read this book as an ARC and I will now be highly recommending it to anyone who is into poety. It's funny but also real and makes you think. I felt like someone printed out my own thoughts and put it on paper. Like the amount of lines I read and was like "oh my god wow yeah". This author writes so natural and free, I just absolutely love it.  I loved the poem "That to Philosophize Is to Learn to Die" it might be my new favorite poem and it actually made me wanna cry. Anyways this book is actually heartbreaking and funny and real, and I really did love it. I actually might try to read more poetry books in the near future after reading this book.
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first of all, look at this cover?? so simple yet not, i love it 

this was actually a very fun read

i won’t lie and say that it’s a light one because it’s very gripping from the start of each individual poem and then it goes in the way you wouldn’t expect it to go towards, many made me stop and think about what i’m doing with my life and how words can validate me so much 

also an enlightening excerpt from this one 

“Bad news: You can’t actually save time. You’ll just use it to do something else. You pretty much have to do one thing at a time, and in order. You could change your life. You could waste some time and be happy. I like to feel wistful before sleep, and sometimes I get in bed early just to lie there awake, feeling wistful. I procrastinate more than I used to, and worry less. It turns out, important stuff just gets done. I know it will get done. So it seems strange that I actually have to do it. Why do I have to make this future that already exists?”
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Normal Distance is a group of beautiful poems, at times atmospheric, at times sad. I liked the writing and felt emotional reading them.
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This was like a breath of fresh air. It was powerful and insightful but filled with relatable quotes that I hope will follow me until later on in life. I loved how fluid this felt to read through and how raw it felt in the middle-end of the book. It gave lines of horror and chilling experiences while still maintaining a level of humor and comedy. 

Normal Distance talks about the pleasure of discovery and educated ignorance, It was written to make you use all of your brain cells and put them through thought-provoking exercises through the weirdness questions or ideas and then give you an answer that you could agree with but you don't want to agree with. 

Favorite Quote:
"They say "never forget," but how can you remember things you haven't experienced? You can't remember things you don't know—but you can remember things that you don't know you know."
Thank you to Net Galley and Catapult, Counterpoint Press, and Soft Skull Press for providing me with this ARC in exchange for my honest review and thoughts.
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I used to think poetry was nothing but tangential, existential navel-gazing. Then I discovered Robert Browning and Christina Rosetti and so many others and fell in love with what poetry can explore and reveal. And then I read this and found myself thinking of it as only so much navel-gazing again.

Not being an expert in poetry or in this style of poetry in particular, I will not say that it is bad but simply that it is not for me. The rambling, easily distracted content of the poems made it hard to latch onto something (it was a bit like listening to a friend who's high and feeling Very Deep), and I eventually realized it just wasn't going to work for me.

My thanks to NetGalley, Catapult, Counterpoint Press, and Soft Skull Press for providing an eARC in exchange for an honest review.
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[arc review]
Thank you to NetGalley and the publishers Catapult/Counterpoint Press/Soft Skull for providing an arc in exchange for an honest review
Normal Distance releases on September 13th

“Today, there’s more past than yesterday. But is there any less future?”

I love literature that challenges the mind — and this poetry book does exactly that.
Normal Distance explores thoughts, feelings, boredom, unanswerable questions (my favourite), and meanings we might deduce from everyday occurrences.
The one-liners are top notch, extremely thought provoking, and funny in a nonsensical way.

This excerpt from “New Theories on Boredom” sums it up perfectly:
“You could also call “boring because complex” interestingboring (boring in an interesting way) or slow-interesting (interesting, but at a pace that sometimes resembles boredom).
All good poetry is slow-interesting.”
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Delightful and mildly absurd - one of my favorite combinations! Normal Distance is a collection of poems (or poetic musings) on a range of topics including boredom, suffering, happiness, existence, etc. 

This is a quick, thought-provoking read full of funny, odd, and clever wondering. I had a fun time reading this. I have not read poetry in a while and found this to be a refreshing, modern collection. A few of the stand-outs for me included “Yes & No”, “That It Is Folly to Measure Truth & Error by Our Own Capacity”, “Oral History”, and “Malice & the Unknown.”

Best enjoyed when you are feeling playful, curious, philosophical, and/or in the mood for some beautifully written pondering.

Thank you very much to Catapult, Counterpoint Press, and Soft Skull Press for the opportunity to read an advance copy.
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"Part of suffering is the useless urge to announce you’re suffering."

The moment I read Elisa Gabbert's "About Suffering" in this collection, I knew it was for me. 

This is an absolutely wonderful collection that flits all over the place, but still manages to tie back into itself masterfully. It's about grief, but not grieving, it's about feeling melancholy, but not depressed, it's about happiness, but not successes. There were so many standout poems for me, but my favorites were: Wild Animals (Normal Distance), The Vagueness of the Moment, I'm Not Mourning (There is Voids), You Don't Get to Decide How to Feel about Not Having Free Will, Dramedy, Yes & No, and Desiderata.

I cannot wait to go back and read Elisa Gabbert's other collections. This one solidified that her writing is for me in so many ways. I loved this collection and can't wait to pick up a copy after it's released!

Thank you so much to NetGalley, Catapult, Counterpoint Press, and Soft Skull Press for providing me with a copy for an honest review!
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