The Shunt provacatively explores one of our most ordinary experiences of social discomfort—embarassment for the flailing comedian and his all too visible affective labor—in a strikingly intelligent and utterly heartbreaking way. For all its acerbic tonality, The Shunt’s affective agenda is thus the exact opposite of ironic cynicism, which is one of this brilliantly discomforting book’s most delightful surprises.
With its stutters, fractures, puns, sarcasms, and ironies, The Shunt is part of a cluster of books recently written by US poets attempting to understand what it means to live in a country that is constantly bombing other countries. But with its relentless attention to the group psychosis that this state of siege induces in US citizens, The Shunt is also something sui generis. This is your brain on war.