Amuse Bouche.


108 pages
Contains Photos, Illustrations
ISBN 978-0-88922-604-3
DDC C811'.54





Reviewed by Douglas Barbour

Douglas Barbour is a professor of English at the University of Alberta.
He is the author of Lyric/anti-lyric : Essays on Contemporary Poetry,
Breath Takes, and Fragmenting Body Etc.


There are few writers who have more fun with words than Adeena Karasick, and she carries on her extreme gamesmanship in Amuse Bouche: Tasty Treats for the Mouth, a wild and woolly collection of pieces engaging any reader’s full panoply of responses. Karasick has a vast and independent knowledge of high and pop culture, and she brings this to bear on the various parodic representations of different discourses, from advertizing, education, bureaucracy, politics, defence, and other areas of “expertise,” to songs, films, and TV shows.


Beginning with a “Reader Safety Information” guide, and including the title piece—based on a menu—through some delightful takes on popular songs, including “Hotel Kabbalahla,” to a “Rules to Text By”—based, it seems, on “The Rules”—Amuse Bouche covers a lot of ground. Although its extreme playfulness, its insistence that “Each letter, / mysterious, majestic and ceremonious,” is important, Karasick’s writing is complexly political, its raging punning pointing to the lies, evasions, and ideological illogic that various powers-that-be impose on citizens everywhere.


Amuse Bouche most definitely refuses to offer conventional lyric satisfactions; it is a blustering blast of rebel play, a grand example of surplus literary economics. Karasick is a terrific performer of her work, and even on the page, these pieces are performances that invite an engaged reading (aloud if possible) from their readers. Anyone looking for something challenging, different, and highly entertaining will find Amuse Bouche just the thing.



Karasick, Adeena., “Amuse Bouche.,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed June 23, 2024,