Underworld Lit: Selected Reviews
LA Review of Books
"Reddy would ask us, what is it that we think we know? In this way, Underworld Lit should be of particular interest to readers with investments in humanities education. Reddy’s painfully accurate send-up of university management speaks to the competing objectives of monetizing learning and an ethical approach to knowledge. But the critique is not limited to the present. Underworld Lit reckons with our historical inheritance and complicity in systematized violence."
-- Review by Rachel Carroll
The Hong Kong Review of Books
"Underworld Lit is a book-length poem with a more than passing resemblance to the campus novel, and it may well rank as one of the masterpieces…"
-- Review by Paul Scott Stansfield
The Chicago Review
"What happens after the end that is not the end, in the moment of a return to normalcy that you did not expect to make? In this sardonic (until it’s tender), funny (until it’s sad), and surreal (yet strikingly real) prose poetry collection/fantasy tale/auto-eulogy, such questions are asked again and again, corkscrewing around the same points at different altitudes. Deeply personal confession gives way to ironized academia, which in turn gives way to dreamscape narrative, accumulating course planning materials, texts, translations, and myths."
-- Review by Tim DeMay
"Reddy analyzes the still-contemporary ambition to live everywhere forever, as the modernists did… In Hades, or Malraux’s Imaginary Museum, poets wait to be revived, or even just robbed. All styles and subjects wait on a shelf down there for an explorer to take up again. Reddy’s orphic provocation, addressed to contemporaries, is to return to the depths."
-- Review by Robert Von Hallberg
On the Seawall
"A realm that spans prose and poetry, asking for pause amid the momentum of plot to consider national devastation and nuclear family; pathos and tweeness and grimness; things loved, lost, or bought; language borrowed, revived, translated."
-- Review by Calista McRae
"Reading Underworld Lit, even the title’s meaning shifts, from the slang version of a course title to “lit” as the past tense of the verb “to light.” Yet that shifting ground is the very foundation of this book, where slippage moves the reader and the unsteady becomes graceful insight…with wit and sorrow, Reddy exposes the demands of the corporate university and the demands of the soul, the play of teaching and the play of children, the thrilling effort of sense-making and the futility of mastery in a complex and confusing world."
-- Review by Leah Souffrant
"Richly allusive, provocative, and entertaining—a composition that embraces in ways large, small, and multifarious what John Barth called 'the principle of metaphoric means.'"
-- Review by Daniel Tobin
"An exciting, captivating read . . . a collection heavily steeped in philology, historical cultural criticism, moral philosophy, and death. But mix in a talking, portable airplane gateway and an underslept toddler who doubles as an infernal judge, and the narrative is balanced between the terrifyingly gravid and the darkly humorous absurd. Though in the end, what makes the book so compelling is Reddy’s insistence on intimacy. And complicity."
-- Review by Michele Battiste