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Don't Let Me Be Lonely: An American Lyric Paperback – August 26, 2004


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My Struggle: Book Four
Eighteen-year-old Karl Ove moves to a tiny fishing village in the Arctic Circle to work as a school teacher. As the nights get longer, the shadow cast by his father's own sharply increasing alcohol consumption, also gets longer. Read the full description
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Editorial Reviews

Review

"...Offers a staggering record of a response to the media before and after 9/11." -- —NYFA

"Striking out from ground zero, [Rankine] still sees territory for lighting. I say let’s go." -- —Bridge Online

"Unabashedly, startlingly, successfully partakes of this contemporary combination of turbulence and torpor. It’s consuming to read, engulfing. Raw." -- —Pleiades

About the Author

Claudia Rankine is the author of three collections of poetry: Nothing in Nature Is Private, The End of the Alphabet, and Plot. She teaches at the University of Georgia.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 168 pages
  • Publisher: Graywolf Press; First Edition edition (September 1, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1555974074
  • ISBN-13: 978-1555974077
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.4 x 10 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (25 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #31,889 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

19 of 22 people found the following review helpful By Hector Carbajal on April 16, 2005
Format: Paperback
Image and word shape a unique poetry collection that only Rankine can deliver. The shape of this book initially drew my attention. However, I was not necessarily attracted to the book's front cover. Nevertheless, the selected photographs throughout the collection fit perfectly with the political nature of some of the poems.

The book itself has no index, thus making the entire structure of the book unconventional, a word describing Rankine's vision of America in all its "darkness." I would like to believe that the author intended for readers to read all of the poems as one (considering that there is no index), thus making a linear reading mandatory. However, I read pieces of some of the poems, especially the lists, without specific care.

The photographs grabbed me by the throat. For example, the photograph accompanying the poem on page 117 shocked me. Nelson Mandela wears an "HIV Positive" shirt. The image made me think about the labels used in reference to HIV/AIDS. His smile and the two words, printed on his shirt, spoke loud.

I would like to believe that each of the poems reshapes the way we see paragraph form. The use of illustrations and lists disrupt the linear or "organized" way in reading these prose poems. As reader, I find myself conflicted by reading these poems. I am lost in a sense and I want that completion to be there in my whole/complete/unified reading. The poems on page 99 and 100, for example, create that tension. Thus, the use of dialogue, lines, prose pieces and images create a cross-flow of interventions, which I read as subversive.

I love this poetry collection because it has given me the courage to experiment more with my prose poetry. I also love it because it uses images to radically critique and, perhaps, heal.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Anya on September 27, 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I read this book for a poetry workshop I had joined on a whim (I'm not a poet, nor am I really all that familiar with the works of modern poets), and it completely changed the way I thought of poetry. Rankine's book is beautiful, accessible and a chilling portrait of what it's like to be an American in a post-9/11 world. It's hard to describe, really, what kind of book this is -- but poetry, memoir, documentary, whatever, it's fantastic.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Kent Shaw on July 23, 2011
Format: Paperback
It is apropos that Rankine would follow her book about giving birth (Plot) with this book about life. And what I mean here is life as that very complicated fact and concept that is always churning inside us. What does it mean that the liver is filtering out impurities, even as we sit on a couch watching television? In more well-worn terms, do we define life by our consciousness or our biology? Rankine chooses both for her answer. And I think I started really seeing the consequences of a choice like that when she offered up life as an alternative to death.

In my mind, Rankine's choice of the prose form, perhaps we could call it the mini-essay (what are you supposed to call those little stories by Lydia Davis?), fits with the intentions behind the book. The prose lets her knead away at this truth she's telling about life. There should be no doubt that form is important to Rankine. Just look at the formal choices she has made in her other books, especially Plot. How prose can affect a reader, and give access to some unspoken truth, should be fully considered by people who like this book. To me, this is what opens the book to more thorough reads in the future.
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13 of 17 people found the following review helpful By M.W. on December 7, 2004
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I just got this book on a friend's recommendation and thought that I would glance through it before going to sleep but I couldn't put it down. I ended up reading the whole thing in one sitting and can't wait to go through it again. It is so beautifully written and complex and moving. It is not like a typical poety book in that it is structured more like essays but the essays blend together and fold into one another. It is like poetry in that the choice of words and phrases makes the work very emotionally charged and, well, I know this is a corny word, but I would say profound. It really is a work of art.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on October 24, 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
So, I'm going to have to begin by prefacing that I almost never review books of poetry despite my writing and reading poetry as a career and for fun. However, this book is so amazing because it introduces a multi-genre collection that does not feel highly-stylized or pretentious. What you end up with is a masterpiece that is both smart, and sad, and lonely, and informative of what it means to be alive, truly alive. I recommend this book especially if you are someone who is interested in books that defy genres and do it well.
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Format: Paperback
I read Claudia Rankine’s “Don’t Let Me Be Lonely” while sitting in some knotty roots on a sunny lawn during the first beautiful week of September. There was a funny sort of cognitive dissonance between the late-summer gorgeousness of the outside and the pill bottles, fuzzy televisions and seemingly endless unpacking of death housed in the pages of the book. The tone of this unpacking was curiously matter-of-fact, and while not at all unemotional or wholly light, there was a sort of melancholy humor that pervaded my reading. I wonder if it was the sunshine seeping into my experience of this book, making it difficult to grasp the extent of its inherent gloom, or if that hint of light was something of Rankine’s doing. Probably both. From this book, I felt like I was getting a cross section of World that was small enough and specific enough that I saw it like on a television screen (and yes, I know it’s cheesy to rip the book’s image-theme for the sake of my response to it, but I feel like it’s still legit). Part of it’s the pictures, both the images and the images. I felt like this book was some kind of literary attempt to recreate Dalí, or something. Like, if I were a surrealist painter, this book could serve as the source material for my masterwork. Instead of melting clocks and desert, the poems were full of pills, both bottled and sprawling, the plastic whiteness of infomercials on late-night television sets, internal organs and medical equipment, and the kinds of bathrobey loungewear that people put on instead of their real clothes when they need to wallow in the house instead of going out. Structurally, I think the poems in this book take the form they need to have, you know?Read more ›
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