Gut-Buster (Alien vs. Predator by Michael Robbins)
Michael Robbins’ collection of poems, Alien vs. Predator (Penguin 2012), ranks highly among other entries in the expansive (and ever-growing) crossover mega-franchise:
- Alien (1979) dir. Ridley Scott
- Alien vs. Predator (2012) by Michael Robbins
- Aliens (1986) dir. James Cameron
- Predator (1987) dir. John McTiernan
- Alien 3 (1992) dir. David Fincher
- Predator 2 (1990) dir. Stephen Hopkins
- Prometheus (2012) dir. Ridley Scott
- Alien: Resurrection (1997) dir. Jean Pierre Jeunet
- Predators (2010) dir. Nimród Antal
- Alien vs. Predator (2004) dir. Paul W. S. Anderson
- Alien vs. Predator: Requiem (2007) dirs. The Brothers Strauss
And but whereas many of these films focus on the hyper-violent, pell-mell confrontations between humans and aliens; humans and predators; aliens and predators; aliens, predators, and humans; humans and humans; and predators and predators—Robbins finds an altogether novel approach, making violent confrontation out of the waste of America’s cultural idiolect and his attempts to ironize it past the point of irony, smashing all the broken bits of ad slogans and song lyrics together in a particle collider built by a dysfunctional team of scientists comprised of Axl Rose, Rilke, and the marketing gurus at Forever 21. In the inevitable explosion, Robbins seems almost to prove that by making the ugliness of our language ugly again he can make it sublime (“Let’s put the Christ back in Xbox”)—or at least very and painfully funny.
His second book is great, too. Maybe even better.
Fascinating! Thanks for the tip. What makes you like it better?
You’re right, Sam. The Second Sex is a thriller in all the ways that Alien vs. Predator was, but also a better book, and a surprisingly spiritual one. (You can find my review for TSHS here: “On Faith and Mountain Dew.”) AvP develops its poetics out of an ambivalence about our dinged-up, ad-choked language, but it doesn’t often feel aimed at anything much beyond satirical cultural critique. The Second Sex pursues the stylistic ideas established by the earlier book, but aims at something like spiritual engagement. I suspect I should revisit AvP and find out if I missed this spiritual thread. Perhaps it has buried in Robbins’ work all along.