A Review of Jacob Wren's Families are Formed Through Copulation
J. A. Tyler

Technology comes in. Sometimes at night instead of a book I hold a Kindle. This is an evolution. I am evolving. Readers are evolving. Yet: I zip open the cord on a package. The package arrived in my mailbox. The mailbox is posted at the end of our driveway, a red flag to signal when we have outgoing, the still icy winter hanging about. Inside of the package is a book -- Jacob Wren's Families are Formed Through Copulation. Matte cover, a beautifully engorged design with pinks and green, pages a thick buttery stock as rippled as water-color canvas. Holding its weight and words, I am once again mesmerized by the physical presence of a book.
And then I got older and I had children myself and I loved my children and my parents died and my children got older and they had children and I loved my grandchildren and then I died and on and on it went until the end of time, which was nice.
So go Wren's words, molding Families are Formed Through Copulation into a book that suffocates us in the same beauty it is identifying. This is a book that claims from the first to be about never wanting children, then having them anyway, reasoning about why no one else should, why we shouldn't have, and the forever-stance of not being able to plug them back into the innocence of never-existing. But Wren does all of this so poetically, and with such surrounding directness, that we become both swept up in the argument and carried underneath its currents, drowning here and there, or at the very least left gasping.
The people we knew and had known for years were getting paid less and less or were out of work altogether. There was a kind of anti-ironic stillness in the air. Suddenly people didn't want 'knowing irony' any more. They wanted an end to the immediacy of high-level stress generated by the rapid erosion of their daily little comforts. For example, some friends of ours, both with reasonably good jobs, started drinking their morning coffee without milk. It is only a small detail but it is one of thousands that were occurring every minute. And the poor became the dead.
Families are Formed Through Copulation is a political book. It is an essay about want and need and desire. It is a rant about wanting and not. It is a diatribe about war and gracelessness and the sickness of always making more in our already enough. Without Wren at the helm, an endeavor such as this would surely fail, would blunder and sink into its own gaping holes, but Wren keeps it aloft, pulls us back into the understated, the poetic stillness, only to set us up for the next round. We are a pin in his capable words, knocking down over and over.
In the mornings I cannot get out of bed. If I do manage to get out of bed and make it into the shower, I can't get out of the shower and spend hours on end being beaten by the scalding hot water until my overweight and out-of-shape body is nothing but a shriveled and wrinkled scrap of defeated posture and quiet, half-resigned exhaustion. Some days there are few things to do and those days are a little bit better than the others. Every once in a while I faintly remember just how ambitious I used to be.
Pedlar Press makes me love books, keeps me in lust with books, creates the scene where I say to my wife, 'Feel this,' a smile on my face, my hands running over its slick front, her rolling eyes up and back into her head, capitulating to quiet me, 'Yes, yes yes.' And Jacob Wren is the writer we run into for a variety of reasons: word of mouth, a glanced-at review, or the package that arrives in our black metal mailbox at the end of a still frozen-over driveway, showing again the difference between holding our hands on something or holding in them nothing, the difference between enchantment and not. Wren has, does, and Pedlar too, until tonight I want to hold above my head, in the dim of light, pages that I can hover below, my fingertips, another child born.