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