From Publishers Weekly
The divide between poetry and prose blurs in this collection of personal meditations, which are connected by a heightened sense of place and space: "Sometimes the landscape settles inside you and makes room for nothing else." Kitchen (co-editor of In Short: A Collection of Brief Creative Nonfiction) practices a sort of literary feng shui, as the words find their own pattern and pool together in sentences of occasional beauty, but more often, a sprightly vagueness. She paints a small picture of Ireland, for example, that leaves us with an uninhabited framework of a sentence: "Its people worked and sang and prayed and learned to live with absence." The prettiness replaces substantive observation. Still, she can hit lovely, resonant notes when she anchors herself in one spot: "What is it we think no one sees that is evident to everyone but ourselves? ...Maybe it's the rough sole of the bare feet I tried too late to scrub each time I went into labor. The rough sole gone deep until it is part of personality." With an agile style and a wide range of reference and experience, Kitchen creates interesting moments, but the links between them are large, uncomfortable ideas that declare themselves rather than persuade: " The day is ahead of us, filling the spaces on the map with the solitary knock-knock of a woodpecker, the maybe of a deer come down to drink, thick deciduous forest that seems, the deeper we go, to open itself to our secrets. It all moved back toward metaphor." Alternately rewarding and frustrating, Kitchen's essays are too tender to leave us completely unmoved, but too disembodied to fully engage us.
Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.
From Library Journal
Kitchen's second collection of essays (after Only the Dance: Essays on Time and Memory) concerns "distance and direction and the way memory works through and within landscape." Having begun as a writer of short stories and then cut her teeth on poetry (she has two collections to her name), Kitchen found her voice in the personal essay. The influence of poetry continues to show in these pieces, where she plays with ideas and language. In "Standard Time," for instance, she recalls childhood days on her grandparents' farm: "Daylight. Day delight. The calypso of four years old, early to rise into the dawn." Describing her brother's eyes in an essay that honors William Gass, she writes, "The shortest distance between two points, hypotenuse blue." Kitchen is a lecturer and writer-in-residence at SUNY at Brockport, and her title will be of interest to academic libraries, particularly those with creative writing programs. Nancy P. Shires, East Carolina Univ., Greenville, NC
Copyright 2001 Reed Business Information, Inc.