Love Drones

  • Review
By – December 23, 2019

It is hard to write about Noam Dorr’s Love Drones with­out describ­ing the expe­ri­ence of read­ing it. Even though all of the text is deliv­ered to us in blocks of prose, the book itself screams poet­ry, with its sec­tions that vac­il­late between dif­fer­ent forms and the ways in which text uti­lizes the page. Only the tit­u­lar sec­tion, Love Drones,” has text that spans the full length of the page in the typ­i­cal way. Wouldn’t It” presents each small snip­pet of text with line draw­ings of the parts of a rifle. Pass­port” super­im­pos­es the text on top of the water­marked back­ground of pass­port paper, in addi­tion­al to hav­ing the text stretch the entire way from the ver­so page’s left mar­gin to the rec­to page’s right mar­gin. In between each sec­tion is a micro piece, each called Light/​Text” which places a square with a dot in the mid­dle — a rep­re­sen­ta­tion of a pin­hole cam­era — and a short piece of text on top of a fad­ed pho­to­graph in a sec­ond box on the next page. In fact, unless one were to very care­ful­ly read the back cov­er, they might total­ly miss these pieces of texts described as essays.

Dorr’s use of form is, of course, one of the strengths of this book. The forms allow Dorr to com­part­men­tal­ize and then tie togeth­er his expe­ri­ence which is often split between places like Israel and Amer­i­ca, the two places he has pass­ports for, or the two fac­to­ries in the kib­butz: the juice fac­to­ry that Dorr worked in and the explo­sives fac­to­ry that was under­ground. Dorr is hyper aware of how close he has always been to both life and death, and how he can­not expe­ri­ence one with­out the other.

In the first part of A Study in Three Oranges,” Dorr describes the day the smell of orange blos­soms final­ly takes over the kib­butz: the sweet­ness of cit­rus blos­soms cov­ers the val­ley — cov­ers up all of the smells of the every­day: the shit from cow pens, the rot­ting orange peels turn­ing into cat­tle feed, the burnt turkey feath­ers and bones out­side the slaugh­ter­house.” For Dorr, these expe­ri­ences are not parts of a cycle, per se, but a series of over­lap­ping dual­i­ties, ones that he nav­i­gates emo­tion­al­ly and phys­i­cal­ly. In the rest of this essay, Dorr explores his expe­ri­ence work­ing in the orange juice fac­to­ry with the pre­cious­ness of oranges becom­ing ordi­nary, as he lives with them in abun­dance, and the sto­ry of the two men who died by sui­cide using a grenade pack­aged in a hol­lowed-out orange held between their chests. This sto­ry, rimon bein hal­e­vavot” in Hebrew or grenade/​pomegranate between the hearts” is a bit of a myth in how it has been retold, and Dorr beau­ti­ful­ly tells his ver­sion in pieces, braid­ed with oth­er sto­ries, like how the grenade mak­er, a man he calls The Engi­neer,” was so proud of fig­ur­ing out how to make the grenades work: For him, it was the won­der of dis­cov­ery. The death of two men was secondary.”

Even with the sto­ry of the orange grenades, A Study in Three Oranges” is emblem­at­ic of how bright Dorr’s writ­ing is through­out this book. It also serves to show how inter­wo­ven these sec­tions are, despite how they dif­fer. The oranges show up again at the end of the book in Eros the Mul­ti­ple-Choiced the Algo­rith­mic the Intel­li­gencer the Bit­ter­sweet.” This sec­tion, in the form of a play in six acts, inter­spers­es respons­es to a dat­ing pro­file sur­vey with two kinds of blocks of text: one that describes two lovers and their oth­er lovers and anoth­er in square brack­ets from the first per­son. It is also prob­a­bly the fun­ni­est sec­tion — the respon­der to the sur­vey does not know exact­ly how to answer ques­tions with bina­ry answers, when his answers are any­thing but. The oranges arrive in a lovers sec­tion, when Dorr writes, In anoth­er life this Eros would be the split­ting of an orange, and seg­ments hand­ed around and shared— the seeds plant­ed deep for future trees for future lovers to enjoy.” And then, we are back in the prison, with two men hold­ing their life in an orange between them.

Dorr’s book is hard to write about because it is so thor­ough, com­plex and thick with won­der and curios­i­ty. As the forms of each sec­tion work as hard as they can to tight­ly knit Dorr’s ques­tions and con­clu­sions togeth­er, the read­er is asked to do the same, to see that some knots can­not be total­ly unraveled.

Discussion Questions