Norman Stock's direct expression of gut-level feelings, surreal fantasies, and riotous humor, invite the reader to experience poetry in a new, more immediate way. The boring posturing of academic poetry is stood on its head by these plain-spoken poems, from the much-anthologized "What I Said," on 9/11, which one textbook study has described as offering "a searing insight into the nature of humanity," to his comic send-ups of the literary world. As in his first book, the prize-winning Buying Breakfast For My Kamikaze Pilot, Stock once again lays bare the hypocrisies that surround us with his sardonic wit and commitment to the truth of what we actually feel as opposed to what we are often taught we are supposed to feel.
How Norman Stock achieves the wry, wacky miracles in his new book of poems, Pickled Dreams Naked, is a mystery and an inspiration. Pickling Kafka with schtick—and sudden cries from the soul with "disorganized elbows and old people asleep"—Stock wrings his poems from perilous New York life. With his offbeat persistence, his love of what nobody else loves, and his surreal psychological realities, the microcosms become mythic. Here is the Colossus of Queens, performing a dark stand-up of the heart that is at once funny, pretense-puncturing, and profound.
Catch a ride on Pickled Dreams Naked, and let Norman Stock guide you "through the pitfalls of history / the hell-holes and wicked streets / where we assemble. . .[the] tawdry, human selves" which these outraged, ironic, earthy, resigned, chicken-obsessed, tender, optimistic, horny, despairing, frequently hilarious poems turn radiant.
—Charles Harper Webb
Norman Stock is a curmudgeonly old bastard from another planet obsessed with "incredibly big tits" and sexy Spanish women sucking lollipops. He's a man suffering from too much chicken and poetry and fond memories of jerking off. Worse than Kafka waking up as an insect, Stock wakes up as himself, an old Jewboy with a transplanted kidney, faced with a world of greed, terrorism, "home grown idiots" and his own aging body. He's a "cold cut hanging/ in the delicatessen of the starving," He has no patience for the stupid, the dumb, the jackasses, and especially the poets! Yet, as pissed off as he is, Stock refuses to shut up. "Let me say something / please, please let me say something." His "trick is to treat you as you are" and he is not. These are anti-poems, contemporary but timeless. Like Han Shan, Ikkyu, Juvenal, Martial or Catullus, Norman Stock is from another planet: this one.
—Seido Ray Ronci