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Manderley: POEMS (National Poetry Series) Hardcover – November 7, 2001


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Product Details

  • Series: National Poetry Series
  • Hardcover: 88 pages
  • Publisher: University of Illinois Press (November 7, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0252026985
  • ISBN-13: 978-0252026980
  • Product Dimensions: 8.6 x 6.4 x 0.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #7,539,345 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

"Manderley tears mosses off the old manse of Du Maurier's haunted classic Rebecca, tosses them with a heady late 90s bravura ('Not intonation/ but affect'), and ends up, along with metaphorical 'Day Laborers' of one poem, '[p]lanting like a god/ in the afterglow of the newly minted.' ... Wolff here sets the house afire." -- Publishers Weekly "Selected by Robert Pinsky as one of the five volumes published in 2001 in the National Poetry Series. No passage is too dark, no garden too tangled for the troubled dreamer of Manderley. Wolff turns a quicksilver gaze on a fluid world where both the real and the imaginary are transfigured." -- The New York Review "The virtue of these poems is their speed: a restless, fourth-cup-of-coffee pacing, jumping from persona to persona and voice to voice... And anyone who doubts Wolff's capacity to be simply and screamingly funny must turn immediately to 'The Proverbial Handshake: The Sharon Olds Poem,' which should embarrass all young poets who dream of writing shameless parodies of their elders, but lack the gumption." -- Craig Arnold, Poetry "Manderley demonstrates in new ways poetry's old power to exhilarate while it cuts to the quick... Intelligent, purposeful as well as comic, wonderfully attentive to sound, Wolff uses her gift for gorgeous, poetic gab to conjure presences from the boundaries of language. This is a distinguished and distinctive first book." -- Robert Pinsky

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

7 of 12 people found the following review helpful By po-books on January 29, 2002
Format: Paperback
I've never seen writing that so accurately manifests the mind-games we play. Rebecca Wolff's poems are bold and ruthless; she stalks and pins down difficult subtleties of experience and displays them, still writhing, so that we can view their workings. It's a startling pleasure. Manderley's speaker is always ironically digging for something genuine, something pre-rhetorical, with an humorous, sad knowledge that she won't find it. Subtle layers of interaction and of naming become visible before us as she digs. She watches her own interactions from without and within, aware not only of what's felt, but of the way her observation and naming of the feeling colors the feeling, even predicts and creates it.
These poems expose all feeling as rhetorical, as at least partially created by our descriptions of it. Our rhetorical self-descriptions create discomfort, a sense of not fitting in or being completely honest and genuine. That discomfort is a source of despair and ironic amusement in the book. In Manderley, even the past is revealed as a mode of self-description. Stories we tell ourselves of the past both poison us and give us life. There are a number of magically eerie tales in the book that remind me of Hawthorne's "Rappaccini's Daughter" in their stark moral cynicism: one poem ends, "you must indeed follow children around,/endlessly, or they will kill themselves/at every opportunity."
The constant observation and meta-observation in the poems is very funny, an amusing mix of cocksure, pithy commentary and near-laments. Either mode is soon turned upon by the wary speaker, who lets nothing get by without "self-critique". For Wolff, irony isn't a negative, unproductive stance.
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10 of 17 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on October 10, 2002
Format: Paperback
When you publish a book & only your friends review it--friends whose books the author's published, no less-- can this be anything but a bad sign? As a 30 year old woman writing poems, I'm hungry for brave bold poems by contemporaries, but this book begs the question: must the poems of a juvenile culture be juvenile? America at its apex is a fat beast, self-absorbed & horribly self-conscious. Must our poems match? These poems scream LOOK AT ME ...like that one kid in class whose hand is ever raised in frantic waving but who, called on, has NOTHING TO SAY.
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4 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Robert B Strong on July 15, 2002
Format: Paperback
REBECCA WOLFF is not writing just to make poetry; she is making poetry write as much as it can. The gateway that leads into her first book is the pointed arch of the gothic--in title, cover, epigraph, and opening poems. The gothic is not her agenda but a base-melody to riff from. By the third poem we learn ("Tunnel Visionary"): "my theorem runs: / if history is a tunnel, / timed ribs supporting a structure, / then it is collapsible." The reader, then, should expect "Unpinioned forms of simultaneity"; past and present, hard art and daily culture, are to be equally investigated. If we encounter the "spooky rhododendrons" of the gothic, we also have some honest interest in Our Bodies, Ourselves, some nonchalant acceptance both of "blah, blah, blah" and the mutability of meaning in language. Theory is never an end for Wolff and, refreshingly, it's no big deal. We have lives to live and art to make. The speakers in this book don't need footnotes to explain the complexity of self; for that, they have the multiple perceptions of their own lives.
Throughout Manderley we encounter many possible theorems and theses of art. Lines like "Imagination has never been a friend to me" or "Real content is mystery" or "Words being / the fracture of genesis." Even where these statements disagree, the poet is not contradicting herself. Manderley is a constant figuring-out that will overlook no possibility; Wolff has not made the common mistake of mistranslating the famous edict make it new as throw it all out. Her formidable intellect and reading are mustered to explore "The basic / subject that of experience in question." ("Broads Abroad: Elizabeth Bishop & Jane Bowles").
This question makes good poetry. "Spending the Day on a Sleeping Porch" is a gentle minor masterpiece.
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8 of 15 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on April 11, 2002
Format: Paperback
I might not be of this lastest generation, but I do read their magazines. It seems to me that this other eader response posted is written by a young poet who was published by the press that is run and owned by this poet here, Mrs. Wolfe. This seems like bad form, ladies. I suppose it would be simply annoying in and of itself, but added to the fact that this book is simply awful makes this kind of back-scratching very misleading for the average reader. I do not think that one has to be a good poet to be a good editor, and visaversa. I'll leave it at that.
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2 of 6 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on April 15, 2002
Format: Paperback
Cathy Wagner here--I wrote a commentary on Manderley that appears below. According to a reader from DC, I shouldn't have posted it because Fence Books, a press Rebecca Wolff edits, published my book. Conflict of interest? You bet! I owe Rebecca Wolff bigtime! It would be wrong of me to mislead anyone into thinking I'm an objective reviewer of Rebecca Wolff's work. That's why, instead of posting my opinion anonymously, I signed it and explained my connection to Rebecca.
Interim Magazine commissioned me to write the piece. I explained the conflict-of-interest issue to the editor, who wanted me to write it anyway. So, to ensure Interim readers knew what they were getting into, I explained exactly who I was. It's your right to know where I'm coming from so that you can make some estimate of my bias. It's also my right to make my opinions about Manderley public.
But enough about me-read the book and decide for yourself.
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