Moon Facts by Bob Schofield

Moon Facts by Bob SchofieldLike his muse, Schofield offers potential solidity, hidden by shadows and distance. Revealing where bees go to die, but not why, he offers this solidity to the reader as a basis for exploring further.

This collection contains twenty-three facts about the Moon: not boring facts about astrophysics; facts about the Moon’s stance on crime and costume parties. Set in differing manners, the facts vary between aphorisms, poems, and prose.

The collection opens with a reminder that the Moon is not a metaphor for anything else.

THE MOON is not a friend
Or your lover

We should just clear that up right now
THE MOON is simply itself

Simply a rock
massive and pale as it looks
downward

in the exact shape of your dad

– Fact #001

This is only the first fact that Schofield subverts before he has finished expressing it. Continuing this vein, the collection, like the Moon, shifts between apparent clarity and obfuscation: the words remain simply themselves, but our perception changes them in the space between our eyes.

This dichotomy between what is and what seems in context also exists in the value of each work at first reading: taken in isolation, some of the facts feel trite or convoluted for the sake of it; but reconsidered having read other facts, words and images take on bespoke meanings, sometimes shifting or branching several times.

like the last page of a cartoon book/about a grown man/punching a bat

– Fact #011

But Schofield does not allow the reader to bask in the safety of knowing the facts. The numbering of facts skips, reaching 999 at the close of the collection, suggesting this is not the whole picture. Assuming, and it is only a product of the false significance of 999, that the last fact in the collection is the last fact, the reader has less than 3% of the facts. With the facts presented changing other facts, the realisation of this paucity drops the reader back into interpreting the facts on their own preconceptions.

Where the collection potentially does lack subtlety is in the use of AllCaps for each mention of the Moon. While it adds resonance and variety to begin with, the style loses impact after repeated exposure. A potential flaw in a collection otherwise inviting – even requiring – to be devoured in a single sitting.

THE MOON built the/weather out of string

– Fact #729

Of course, the emphasis might be a red herring. There are subtle hints the collection might not be about the moon at all. But Schofield told us the Moon is itself, so you would have to be a lunatic to look too deeply.

Interspersed among the facts are sketches of the phases of the moon. They refuse to give up their secrets, even when threatened.

I enjoyed this collection greatly. I recommend it to readers seeking enjoyable prose and layered meanings.

I received an advance copy from the publisher in exchange for a fair review.

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