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The Vigil: A Poem in Four Voices Paperback – August 1, 1993

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4 Stars and Up Feature: Kitchens of the Great Midwest
"Foodies and those who love contemporary literature will devour this novel that is being compared to Elizabeth Strout's Olive Kitteridge. A standout." --Library Journal Learn more
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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Gibson ( Signs ) enters a terrain more common to fiction with this book-length poem, a lyrical saga of contemporary family life in rural Connecticut. An alcoholic lies on his deathbed while his daughters, Sarah and Jennie, gather with their mother and Sarah's daughter for their annual ritual of firing Sarah's pottery. Working within these unusual but potent boundaries, not a word is wasted. Secret after secret is revealed: a brother's drowning in childhood was due to his sister's negligence; a pregnant teenager learns that her aunt is really her mother who gave birth to her when she was a teenager. The four women do not interact directly here, and there is no dialogue; rather, readers experience their vivid interior monologues that mirror each other. "Another cry-- / it's Brook, it's Brook hurt, / I run to him, our voices one voice, hurt," Sarah thinks, while in her sister's mind: "Her cry cleaves the air. I'm brushed by her breasts as she stumbles on the rug and hurries past." Contradiction and tension are created as each woman argues within herself. Readers quickly discern the emotional subtext expressed in each woman's breath: Jennie's prose poems indicate her flat acceptance of her lot. Gibson's impressive ability with line and meter contributes greatly to the volume's success.
Copyright 1993 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

This sequence of poems resembles a novel. There are secrets, we learn in the first poem, and each poem brings us closer to knowing them. The setting: Two sisters gather with their mother and the younger sister's daughter for a ceramic firing while their estranged, alcoholic father lies dying in a nearby town. The corrosive power of secrets both binds the family together and holds its members apart. As the poems--extraordinarily well crafted, conjuring clear, individual voices for their characters--progress, the secrets are stripped away, and the women find a chance for real intimacy despite, rather than because of, the family bonds. An admirable and compelling work. Pat Monaghan --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 114 pages
  • Publisher: Louisiana State University Press; First edition (August 1, 1993)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0807118680
  • ISBN-13: 978-0807118689
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.3 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,726,511 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

By Stephanie on October 17, 1999
Format: Paperback
The Vigil is a work about survival amidst alcoholism and the daily struggles of life. I met Ms. Gibson at a literary festival and she autographed my copy of the book. She is a strong poetess and woman, and I would highly recommend reading this book, along with her others.
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