From Publishers Weekly
Fusing confession, narrative and classicism, Carson's poetry witnesses the collision of heart and mind with breathtaking vitality. In five long poems and a final essay (the provocative "The Gender of Sound"), her often droll tone and limber use of poetic form mediate a deeply philosophical undercurrent. The nine-part narrative poem, "The Glass Essay," delivers a truth-telling mosaic of diverse subject-matter?including the speaker's departed lover, a visit to her mother, The Collected Works of Emily Bronte, sexual despair and loneliness and visions termed "Nudes." Twenty wry, swift takes on "The Truth About God" include God's Christ Theory and The God Coup; "T.V. Men" wittily casts Sappho and Antonin Artaud as television personas, and explores the medium with ever-shifting refrains such as "TV is made of light, like shame." The 70 brief sections comprising "The Fall of Rome: A Traveller's Guide" deliver a round-robin meditation on strangers, dread, holiness, and mastery; "Book of Isaiah" retells the prophet's struggles in jarring language that reads at once futuristic and supremely ancient. Like a miner's lamp, Carson's nuanced voice illuminates often-unexplored interior spaces.
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc.
Bringing a classical education and a philosophic quest to challenge tradition, Carson seamlessly blends these traits in her poetry and prose. This collection of mostly long poems demonstrates Carson's daring and dramatic approach to writing, especially in "The Glass Essay," where she intertwines repercussions of a failed relationship, encounters and attempts to understand her parents, the theme (recurring almost symphonically) of Emily Bronte's glass-box life and intrigue with darkness and death, and Carson's fear and attraction to Bronte's vision. "The Truth about God" brilliantly characterizes biblical language and stories, recontextualizing them and re-envisioning our beliefs about what we have learned. "The Fall of Rome: A Traveller's Guide" contains brief but recurrent phrases like "A stranger is . . . ," with each ending changing and offering new insight. Readers weary of overtly intellectual poetry will find Carson emotionally accessible, and academics will appreciate her obvious knowledge of history and her mental acuity. But mostly, Carson will appeal to readers who are open minded, willing to ask, seek, and learn, and those wanting to be overcome, in a grand way, by an intense, urgent, new kind of poetry. Janet St. John