Marvelous Medicine: Books for Precocious Kids and Kid-Hearted Grownups

~by Dan Pinkerton

of lamb

Of Lamb, by Matthea Harvey, paintings by Amy Jean Porter
McSweeney’s Books

Many of the classics have an air of weirdness about them, novelty coupled with discomfiture. The art startles, making you more alert, opening you to a new kind of beauty. Think Dalí or Buñuel, Wallace Stevens or William Faulkner, Bladerunner or Charlie Kaufman. Of course there’s bad weird, weirdness for its own sake, genuine insanity. Such weirdness quickly fades. But there’s also good weird, the weird that endures. Of Lamb, a book of poems by Matthea Harvey with paintings by Amy Jean Porter, is assuredly good weird.

The weirdness is there in neon from the start. Porter’s paintings are a hodgepodge of color and line, stencil-style patterns, leaves and limbs and vines spiraling across the page. We get glimpses of everything from Manny Ramirez to Seventies-era split-levels to Washington crossing the Delaware. In one illustration, the book’s protagonist, Lamb, stands on a table gnawing at his back leg, surrounded by cacti, while a large wasp settles on his haunch. In another, Lamb is tightrope walking above an old cabinet-style TV set on which an image of Peter Jennings plays. Continue reading