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Sass Brown


E-book (Other formats: Paperback)


Crab Orchard Series in Poetry


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About the Book

Sass Brown’s darkly funny debut collection of poems explores both the isolation and the absurdity of twenty-something apartment living. The world Brown creates in USA-1000 overflows with infomercials, classic Hollywood films, billboard messages, strip clubs, and fortune-tellers, illuminating our complex relationship with consumerism. In the absence of personal intimacy, everyday objects take on unexpected importance: the clothing of a would-be couple mingles in a washing machine; a father watches pornography in a hotel room with his wife and daughter; a woman searches a shopping mall to put on hold items she’ll never buy; a broken hair dryer prompts a complaint letter to the Better Business Bureau. Brown’s dazzling poems probe the disappointment of domestic reality in the face of America’s glossy facade, abundance and emptiness hand in hand. Ultimately, the book finds beauty in the deliciously artificial and resurrects “the missing world” with words and memory.


Sass Brown is a recipient of the Ruth Lilly Fellowship in Poetry, a Vermont Studio Center fellowship, and a Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference scholarship, among other honors. She earned her MFA in creative writing from Indiana University. Her poetry has been published in many literary journals, including Hayden’s Ferry Review, Crazyhorse, Black Warrior Review, and Gulf Coast. USA-1000 is her first book.


“Brown is a poet of insatiable curiosity, sly wit, and a wry wisdom. She draws no distinction between high culture and what others would call kitsch. Hers is a world where the archaeopteryx commingles with loads of laundry, where Barbies and Hallmark Cards give way to sleaze and more insidious consumerism, and—almost invariably—celebration gives way to elegy. It takes character and craft to describe a world so various and capacious, and Brown has plenty of both. USA-1000 is a scintillating collection by a poet of unusual promise.”—David Wojahn
“Combining humor with pathos, USA-1000 reflects upon lost fathers and fallen idols, ex-lovers and an American commercial landscape that simultaneously exploits, celebrates, and dismisses young women. It’s a whip-smart, timely, even prescient debut, whose liveliness, humor, and readability belie its darkest undercurrents.”—Paisley Rekdal
“USA-1000 makes an album documenting the mind stream of a woman’s life in a contemporary colonized world. These poems purr with the power of the female vision in a domestic universe.”—Joy Harjo
“Sass Brown’s poems resonate with knowledge and experience, yet they retain an almost childlike desire for all things to have integrity, to be what they promised. Even in the face of great loss, these poems move through life’s vicissitudes with a persistent, energetic willingness to hope.”—Adrienne Su

“Brown’s world is a world of many things, the world given us by commerce, movies, and television, but the book is a record of the distance, often unbridgeable, between wanting and getting. The world conjured here is a large one, teeming with life, elusive and funny in the same breath.”—Roger Mitchell

Sass Brown employs startling and challenging perceptions to jolt us out of readerly ease. Her work succeeds in disrupting ordinary domestic scenes not just to estrange but to enlighten the reader.  —William Doreski

“USA-1000 is the number to call if you want to hear all about the sizzling longing at the heart of contemporary American life. Sass Brown, in wry, witty poems flavored with irony and lashed with sadness, knows all about loneliness and loss—how it insinuates itself under the cheerful banter on television and deflates the ordinary objects we depend on for comfort. Brown’s voice in these rich poems is both comic and tender, and reveals the truth about our way of life—that a sweater can mimic an embrace, that a broken hairdryer can equal a broken heart.”—Maura Stanton