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Tantalus in Love: Poems Hardcover – April 7, 2005

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

If love is the province of poets, slow, grinding breakups are usually novelist's territory. The figure of Tantalus takes the form of a husband, who, after 20 years of marriage, admires his wife as she rises before him in the morning and "knows he'll never touch her again." These autobiographical poems, which refer to events covered in Shapiro's Song and Dance (the death of his brother) and After the Digging (the death of his sister), remember joys, express daily care for children as things come apart, turn over past grievances, and project infinite future grief. The presiding spirit is Robert Lowell at his chiseled best, but Shapiro has something, too, of Frost's grim depersonalization. If Shapiro doesn't quite hit his own pitch perfectly, as he did in Song and Dance, he takes well-wrought stock of a disappearing relation. The title poem, about the unbearable uncertainty of his wife's fidelity, is like listening in, unbearably, on the nearly mute Richard Gere character from Unfaithful as Diane Lane dresses before him. (Apr.)
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"Poet Alan Shapiro again dazzles us with his linguistic layups." --Dannye Romine Powell Charlotte Observer

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 96 pages
  • Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt; First Edition edition (April 7, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0618452427
  • ISBN-13: 978-0618452422
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.6 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.2 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,232,500 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Robert Pratte on September 20, 2006
Format: Hardcover
I must confess, I'm not much of a fan of confessional style poetry. Yet, Shapiro has consistently, to my mind, produced great collections in this style. In Song and Dance, he grappled with those big issues of love, life, and death alongside the smaller ones of how to retain personal memories of a sibling, qualify his own coming of age, and ultimately deal with the grief that accompanied his loss. When I read it, I found it an excellent collection of poems.

So what of Tantalus in Love? Here Shapiro addresses the estrangement in his marriage, divorce, jealousy, and finally the possibility of finding love again and driving those old memories away. As a whole, it is ultimately a sort of quest that ends in his own personal redemption, with the demons of his past tragedies (loss of parents, siblings, and marriage) finally cast out.

Once again, Shapiro has produced a fine collection of poems that present a coherent whole while remaining enjoyable and powerful on their own.
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