Sway This Way: The Pulp vs. the Throne by Carrie Lorig | Review

Review by Alexis Smithers

The Pulp vs. the Throne by Carrie Lorig left me confused, bewildered, and magicked.

It’s something I never would’ve picked out on my own and I’m glad, poet and Actual Cloud (the first edition has sold out but you can keep an eye out for it here), Dalton Day gently pushed me into her path with this tweet:

I was hooked in with monotonous and incredible in the same sentence. That seems impossible yet full of truth and that is exactly what this book is.

Divided into four or nine parts depending how you look at it, each section is sliding you towards the edge of a cliff. The first three parts you’re wondering why you’re on a cliff, by part four you’ve accepted your fate, and the last part of the book you’re evaluating, enjoying, exciting the fall. It’s a trip and a half to be honest.

There are some books that every word fills you with complete and total clarity.

This is not one of those books.

Here, you have to scavenger for understanding. Take to the page with pen and open heart, digging up and through and around and below each letter, slash, space, picture and pause until you glean something that you can hold up to the light and decide to keep.

It’s like when you go for a walk by yourself as a kid, or before the world breaks something important in you, and you’re still amazed at everything you see. You’re living capital letter exclamation point.


That tree was yellow but noW IT’S ORANGE!!!!!


and you pick up little rocks and sticks and leaves and bottle caps and scraps of paper along the way because the important in you says you need to. And then, you bring all of those home and sit on the bedroom floor with a huge smile smacked on your face as you take all these treasure clues you’ve found and put together a story a secret the world needs you to tell, to know.

You don’t hide it when it’s time to go to bed because there’s nothing to hide.

But when you wake up in the morning, you find your mom has thrown your work play away because you’re “not supposed to bring the outside in with you.”

This book is digging through the plastic bag in the garage to find the unknown necessary she’s tossed. This book is learning that you didn’t bring the outside in with you, you’re learning to bring the inside of you out.

A lot of it doesn’t make sense if you’re looking for a clear cut answer. I can’t tell you what this book is about because it holds so much. Right now, it’s about living within contradictions, turning back to read the notes your feet leave, repetition that uses different words but comes to similar meaning, and embracing the un-doneness of what clings to your heart like familiar alien pulse. Who knows what it will be when I finish writing this.

You’ve got to go into this book with a lot of trust. But that’s okay. It’s good practice for everything else.

You can follow Carrie and bewilder yourself at her Twitter and Tumblr and buy The Pulp vs. the Throne here.

Contributing Editor

Alexis Smithers is a twenty one year old explosion of messes. They are queer black writer that was published in a book about how horses heal (Wild at Heart by Heather Kirby), and has work that can be found on theEEEL. Fun facts: they tied a pillowcase to their back and tried to fly after seeing Sky High, their mantra can be found in Wreck-It Ralph, The Babadook, or Orphan Black (depending on the day) and they’re terrified of mostly everything but art makes the fear easier to hold.