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Meadowlands Hardcover – April 21, 1996

24 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews Review

Louise Gluck sows the fertile subject ground of marital discord in harvesting this crop of gems. The poems zing back and forth as the verses alternate between man and woman. "Flaubert had more friends and Flaubert was a recluse" says he, followed by her response, "Flaubert was crazy; he lived with his mother," In one scene they argue over dead French writers; later they discuss football. Yet Gluck's work is more than a series of barbs. She writes in the nuances and language of a marriage, laid out against the voices of Odysseus and Penelope.

From Publishers Weekly

Gluck's seventh collection (following The Wild Iris, 1993's Pulitzer winner) interleaves vignettes of the Odyssey and a distressed modern marriage. Grimly serious parables, amusing but disquieting spousal conversations and insightful commentaries written in the voice of Telemachus, Odysseus's son, season the 46 poems. Assessing his parents' lives, Telemachus observes, "heartbreaking, but also/ insane. Also/ very funny." In "Anniversary," Gluck captures the particular cruelty made possible by intimacy: "Someone should teach you how to act in bed./ ...Look what you did?/ you made the cat move." In another, the depths of marital alienation are captured by a woman who weeps, holding a bag of garbage in an unlit garage at midnight: " this the way the heart/ behaves when it grieves: it wants to be alone with the garbage?" Despite humor, there is little joy. Gluck sees, in daily life as in Odysseus's heroic one, the "unanswerable/ affliction of the human heart: how to divide/ the world's beauty into acceptable/ and unacceptable loves." These compressed and tightly focused poems are organized into a short collection of exceptional punch.
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 61 pages
  • Publisher: Ecco; 1 edition (April 21, 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0880014520
  • ISBN-13: 978-0880014526
  • Product Dimensions: 0.5 x 6.5 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (24 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,476,678 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

13 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Thomas G. Lombardo on December 17, 2001
Format: Paperback
Anyone who tries to walk in Homer's shoes has got to be a very good poet. Failure would bring certain ridicule from Pulitzer peers. Louise Gluck lives up to her reputation as a leading contemporary poet with "Meadowlands." The book is worth buying, may be enjoyed by most poetry readers, and is nearly 100 percent satisfying. Gluck has presented 46 poems in a story of three lives during a marriage that is falling apart: Odysseus, Penelope, and their son, Telemachus.
Gluck presents her poems in several groupings within the book. There are nine entitled "Parables" of one sort or another that tell symbolic tales. There are a number of dialog poems between the man and the woman-he said, she said-that are free-spirited and very direct. There are sirens and a Circe, of course, who are very sexy, but tend to screw things up for the marriage. There are a series of observations by Telemachus, the unfortunate victim of this relationship. Telemachus grows into manhood during this book, though strangely disappears too soon to assess his recovery, and that's the one unsatisfying detail for me. Unlike The Odyssey, Penelope and Odysseus don't get back together again at the end. I didn't notice a Polyphemus character. I would liked to have seen his unique perspective on this unfortunate situation.
Gluck writes of the usual stuff that wrecks a marriage: affairs, jealousy, decades-old gripes, the humdrum that magnifies to crime during the dissolution of a marriage. It's quite mundane stuff, but Gluck is wickedly precise in the telling. In the dialog poem "Ceremony," Odysseus says to Penelope:
one thing I've always hated
about you: I hate that you refuse
to have people at the house.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Jeannine Hall Gailey on January 29, 2006
Format: Paperback
This is one of the best, if not the best, of Gluck's books so far (though I have not yet read Averno.) Gluck's understated sense of humor pervades the collection, which focuses on a contemporary couple's disintegrating relationship and the relationship between Odysseus, Penelope, and Telemachus. The sharp bite of anger, bitterness, and confusion infuse the most personal poems, but again, a turn of wit often lifts the poem by the end. Emotionally resonant and deceptively simple, this collection bears frequent re-reading. As a poet, I have studied the structure of the book as a classic example of entwined themed poems. My favorite poems are in the voice of Circe, who states at the end of one poem: "If I wanted only to hold you,/ I could hold you prisoner." And the poem "Midnight," with the lines: " is this the way the heart/ behaves when it grieves: it wants to be/ alone with the garbage?"
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on February 2, 1999
Format: Paperback
At first glance a departure from her previoius books. Certainly not as good, as a whole, as The Wild Iris, or Ararat. Thematically tight, circling around the journey of Odysseus and the homelife of those he left behind, this volume displays a new playfulness, a looseness. The dominant voice of the book is spite, told and retold in the eponymous series of poems, but not so simply: this is the voice of tedium, of love having struck daily life, tolerance instead of passion, annoyance instead of love, of two people who circle each other endlessly, never in the same emotional space at the same time. The product of love is loss, and hurt. But also hope. And tenderness. Magnificent monologues abound in this book. The worst that can be said is that the volume is tonally uneven, taking jarring leaps in time and vernacular. Also a few poems might seemed to me weak, to be neither thematically or narratively significant, nor were they solid poems alone. But the lasting image of the book is one of wistfulness, a defiant memory of the possibilities to come. A nice progression for those who have followed th arc of Gluck's writing.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Romy- Eng 2 on April 2, 2005
Format: Paperback
Gluck's book Meadowlands is a collection of poems that intertwine the same way a novel does. The author connects the book with a contemporary marriage and a re-telling of Homer's The Odyssey. By showing this popular mythology alongside the modern work, Gluck is able to remind us themes of love, betrayl, loss, stubbornness and grief. These difficulties still exist between couples and all can relate to such struggles while reading her book. This pain further heightens the personal hurt the author is going through rather than others who just characterize it generally. Gluck has a way of portraying the characters in her work as actual people rather than figures. She gives them a point of view, color, and personality that other poets have yet been able to accomplish. For example, Telemachus' true feelings for his parents, which are not addressed in the original are imagined by Gluck to be resentment and confusion; this gives him the persona of a teenager that we know an can imagine. Not only is his opinion made more clearly, any reader who has witnessed fighting parents or has experienced it first hand can actual relate to his pain and identify with what he is feeling.

Through such famous figures, Meadowlands can explore such endless themes of love and humiliation. The reader discovers that contemporary life is the same as past. Gluck does this well by using The Odyssey and her private life to bring such situations to light. One can understand and appreciate mankind's bond of suffering by reading this book.
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