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Point and Line First Edition Edition

7 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0811214421
ISBN-10: 0811214427
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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Mike teases Sal about her hair and her shadowy shoulders./ He calls her his 'dirty little iceball' and she smiles that he loves her enough to name her." Debts to previous genre-busting metafiction and metapoetry, and a persistent interest in the physical properties of a book, are pulled through a winningly feminist sensibility in this remarkable debut. A set of nine discrete poetic essays, post-modern myths, apparently-unactable theatre-pieces, versified diaries, extended jokes and fictional experiments (along the tonal lines of Gillian McCain and others) add up to, as the Kandinsky epigraph describes it, "a new, independent life in accordance with its own laws." "Seven Veils," from which the opening quote is taken, uses long lines to tell the semi- or pseudo-story of a teenager who happens to be a comet as she careens brilliantly through "dummies," "governments," "households," animals and rites of passage. Heavily indebted to Wittgenstein, "A\1" interweaves the thoughts of an analysand with ideas about other situations, among them that of a cat in a famous philosophical quandary. "The Compass Room" experiments with perspectivism, multiple narrators and vague settings, in a way readers of John Barth will recognize: "Each book has a title and all chapters have numbers," it opens. "Walking" tries to recreate the moment-by-moment perceptual experience of a walker in a city, scattering phrases, lists, associations and sentences all over its 23 pages, in an ambitious update of late-model New York School verse. "Hours" is a postmodern parody of a play-script, with impossible stage directions for "Microbes" and "Whales." While the methods of proceeding are familiar, the characters and results are not, making this wonderfully varied first book a real pleasure. (Apr.)
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.


A fascinating tour de often vital exploration of time, intimacy, daily life and American social history. -- The Cafe Review, Annie Seikonia, Summer 2000

Between the inward tension of the point and the outward push of the line, Thalia Field maps a force field of relations, power games, shifting configurations. In a language both cool and intense, and with a surveyor's precision. But for all the geometries, we are irresistibly pulled towards the center, the emotion which cannot be stated or described, only surrounded, so that the real story happens in the consciousness of the reader. -- Rosmarie Waldrop

Field has created a playground of provocative thoughts and human actions which become performance on the page. -- How2 (Alerts), Catherine Kasper, Fall 2000

Field has left many doors, hallways, and rooms that other writers may not have previously been able to see. -- Review of Contemporary Fiction, Paul Maliszewski, Fall 2000

To invent new structures within which it may be possible to speak what could not previously be spoken... -- Rain Taxi Review of Books, Kim Fortier, Summer 2000

Product Details

  • Series: New Directions Paperbook
  • Paperback: 144 pages
  • Publisher: New Directions Publishing Corporation; First Edition edition (April 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0811214427
  • ISBN-13: 978-0811214421
  • Product Dimensions: 9 x 6.1 x 0.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #971,881 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on May 26, 2000
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The critical acclaim that has accompanied this book of poetry into the world was if anything too understated. The writing sparkles like a cut diamond and the sensibility of the poet is unflaggingly curious and observant. Well worth the effort --
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on July 20, 2000
Format: Paperback
As a homemaker in Pennsylvania, I rarely cross paths with such refreshing and challenging work as Thalia Field's. The chapters "Setting, The Table" and "Walking" opened me up to a whole range of stories buried in the everyday details of the home: "the debris leaves/the deafness of the/elderly or/the watermark of drinking glasses/put down so long/even the stain has aged..." I don't know what to call this book--a poem, a novel, a play? All I know is that it's pretty darn amazing.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Keri on April 13, 2006
Format: Paperback
I was assigned this book for a writing class, and I confess that I have very little idea of what is going on in it. I kept asking classmates if they could explain a section to me, only to be disappointed when they weren't sure, either! It is an extremely difficult book to grasp as a whole.

However, it is absolutely beautiful. I might not know what Field is trying to say, but I can look at the pages for hours and enjoy how she says it. The layouts of the various pieces mimic the standard styles for other types of writing, while twisting them to suit Field's purpose. Within these pieces, the words themselves seem to be placed to mimic the traditional while saying something completely new, much like the layouts. Examples: the "content" section at the beginning, the "first lines" at the end - both fairly standard for a book of poetry, but with text that does not play the standard role. Instead, these are whole pieces to themselves.

Point and Line requires several reads to fully appreciate it, and I look forward to doing so.
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By Kent Shaw on December 9, 2011
Format: Paperback
Hermeneutics has always been a difficult word for me. On one hand, I understand it deals with insularity and the innately oppressive force that that kind of inward focus exerts on the subject. On the other hand, the boundaries of hermeneutic influence never seem all that clear (are there boundaries?). And so, whether right or wrong, I always think of hermeneutics in terms of a suffocating inwardness, and all the complications that that would imply.

What does this have to do with Thalia Field's Point and Line? I can't help but think of her book as a hermeneutic study of the lyric I. Perhaps I am probing too literally into the Kandinsky quote that serves as the epigraph, but for me the book probes at its point (the I) to discover what might be possible when extending a point. The book indulges the voice of the lyric I throughout, whether it's the nearly catatonic client in "A [therefore] I," or the hyperdetailed perspective offered in "Walking," Field essentially "leaves the mic on" for the lyric self to express and express, until we realize there need be no fatigue to the lyric. The pressures of a hermeneutic self create a perfect Carnot engine for generating language. May it be ad infinitum!

I would venture to say that Field is the Experimentalist Extraordinaire, at least when it comes to thinking through this subjective self. Allegory, stream of consciousness, imaginary families, dramatic productions. There is no shortage to Field's resources, and there is no conceptual boundary she's unwilling to cross. In the poem "Seven Veils," who is Sal? What is Sal? Just for some lyrical fun, I like making Sal (who is either a him or a her or an it or an interstellar comet that has a room in the palace) that client from "A [therefore] I." Why not? Field's experimentalism is infectious.
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