Some Versions of the Ice
Adam Tipps Weinstein
Salt Lake City, UT
Les Figues Press
The essays in Some Versions of the Ice are erudite, intertextual, and jarring—they combine the complexities of the natural world with those of the perceptions of it made by minds prone to error. With topics ranging from touchable language (Braille) to the history of the collar, this work was one I could not stop reading, circling, returning to. Weinstein begins the essay “Graveyard Shoes” with a Yeats quote so appropriate, it could easily be used to describe his own work as well, “This organism is now acknowledged by naturalists as belonging to the animal world.”
Up until I had read the acknowledgements of this book, where Adam Tipps Weinstein thanks Fanny Howe, I was convinced that the author had read The Wedding Dress and adored it as fervently as I had—so much so, Weinstein created the ultimate homage to it. In addition, every time I think that I have found the last person whose writing reminds me of Borges (in the lineup is Annie Dillard, Andrea Barrett, and the aforementioned Fanny Howe), I am joyously thrilled to find that there is another such creature in the world, writing in the kind of beautiful, beguiling, speculative way that challenges the reader to question what they know of fiction or reality. Weinstein’s work isn't that of magical realism. Rather, it is a collection of explorations in actual occurrences. In one of Weinstein’s essays, Heaven-Seeking, or Collars, he deftly details the history of the collar and how it relates to moralism in fashion. The reader may find oneself questioning, collar or no collar, their own morality, their own position on this mortal plane: “Though the styles varied,” he writes of Prayer Collars, “ the collar was almost universally worn in the stark white if naturally exposed bone, which was evidence that the collar was a holy thing.”
In other essays, Weinstein references unions that call to mind Plato’s “Symposium,” or Aristotle's retrospectively amusing experiments with botany. Whether Weinstein is discussing events or histories past or present, Some Versions of the Ice opens the reader to an unexpected exploration of the ways, and depths to which, we think.
Westhale is a poet and essayist living in Oakland, CA. She is the author of The Cavalcade, forthcoming from Finishing Line Press, and has poems in Cimarron, cahoodaloodaling, burntdistrict, and Quarterly West, among others. She has been awarded grants and residencies from the Vermont Studio Center, Sewanee, Dickinson House, Tin House, and Bread Loaf. www.julywesthale.com