Title: Sit Down and Have a Beer Again
Author: Greg Wyss
Genre: Poetry / Short Stories
If a man who entered a time capsule some time around December 2019 were to come out now, he would do so to a world that is almost unrecognizable. The landscape of our lives has changed so much in the past two years that it’s almost impossible to recall what passed for normal before Covid or before the war in Ukraine that has taken so many lives and pushed many countries to the brink of recession.
We now see the world through different lenses, with perhaps a touch of world-weariness akin to soldiers who have gone to war, gone through hell, and just barely made it back. Our experiences during lockdown, and its aftermath, when we were just coming to grips with the full impact of the pandemic, have led to a shift in perspective, to a change in the way we frame our experiences and view ourselves.
Sit Down and Have a Beer Again is a book that embodies all this and more. It is a collection of stories that, for something that was written and first published in the 1970s, is eerily prescient of the events of the present. In a way, these are the kind of books that authors should be writing, and readers should be reading, in the post-Covid era. Sit Down and Have a Beer Again rips away the rose-colored glasses and gives voice to the everyday experience of the average person.
When you think of poetry, the genre of Keats and Browning and Shakespeare, you don’t often associate it with unemployment, being stuck in traffic, putting out the garbage cans, or feeling so miserable that the only way to forget your woes is to get trashed over pints and pints of beers. But for a lot of us, that is life. Why shouldn’t we write poems and short stories about those things? The beauty of writing is that there are no limits apart from those that you set yourself.
In its purest form, writing is an honest expression of one’s thoughts, feelings, and emotions. In this anthology, Greg Wyss lowers his barriers, lets us into his world, and invites us to see it from his point of view. He sometimes comes across as angry, and his frustrations with the establishment, with getting churned up and spit out by a system that doesn’t care, is a running theme throughout the book. The language can be crude and harsh, almost to the point of being gratuitous, but this reflects life as the author sees it.
If a critique can be made for this book, it would be around how the body of work is presented. It would have been better to either center the work around a theme or display a progression toward a central conclusion. At times, the succession of melancholia and/or tirade against the status quo can be perceived as repetitive. Fortunately, the quality of the work is enough to hold up against the book’s organization.
It takes courage to be this frank and candid with your readers, knowing full well that you might be judged or discriminated against. However, this honesty is precisely what gives this book its heart and soul. The attention to detail, his often wry sense of humor, his candor, and his unique way of turning a phrase enables him to tell entire stories in five verses or less, to capture a moment in time in the space of a sentence.
Sit Down and Have a Beer Again is a working man’s magnum opus, like listening to the best kind of Springsteen song. It finds value in the everyday, the beauty in the mundane, and the extra in the ordinary. It is a reminder that our manic pursuit of material things and social media-worthy experiences is not as essential as we think it is. More importantly, it is a lesson that life can be hard, but it’s always a cycle. You may be struggling today, but this could just be the downswing before the inevitable rise back up. So, sit down, put your feet up, and have a beer. It will all still be there when you wake up tomorrow.
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