Pub Date: July 18, 2024

Author: Kenyon Gordon

THE JACKDAW’S PRIZE is a collection of “Observations and Enthusiasms,” which falls more into the category of sketches than formal essays. Written in a bright, jaunty, and somewhat kaleidoscopic style, the author turns his keen-eyed attention to disparate—and unlikely—subjects: The dilapidated charm of the Rust Belt; the neglected artistic uses of styrofoam, “a substance given to holding impressions and having the extra benefit of buoyancy;” the weird, low-grade malevolent magnetism of certain localities; and the question of why roads are where they are, and not in some other place. The author asks questions which are rarely asked and notices things which are seldom noticed (however, once examined, these things will seem glaringly obvious). Sharply focused and frequently funny, the author never descends to sermonizing or blanket-group allegiances. Rather, he probes hidden meanings behind those generally accepted and calls our attention to only important things.