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Distance & Direction Paperback – September 1, 2001

4.2 out of 5 stars 5 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

The divide between poetry and prose blurs in this collection of personal meditations, which are connected by a heightened sense of place and space: "Sometimes the landscape settles inside you and makes room for nothing else." Kitchen (co-editor of In Short: A Collection of Brief Creative Nonfiction) practices a sort of literary feng shui, as the words find their own pattern and pool together in sentences of occasional beauty, but more often, a sprightly vagueness. She paints a small picture of Ireland, for example, that leaves us with an uninhabited framework of a sentence: "Its people worked and sang and prayed and learned to live with absence." The prettiness replaces substantive observation. Still, she can hit lovely, resonant notes when she anchors herself in one spot: "What is it we think no one sees that is evident to everyone but ourselves? ...Maybe it's the rough sole of the bare feet I tried too late to scrub each time I went into labor. The rough sole gone deep until it is part of personality." With an agile style and a wide range of reference and experience, Kitchen creates interesting moments, but the links between them are large, uncomfortable ideas that declare themselves rather than persuade: " The day is ahead of us, filling the spaces on the map with the solitary knock-knock of a woodpecker, the maybe of a deer come down to drink, thick deciduous forest that seems, the deeper we go, to open itself to our secrets. It all moved back toward metaphor." Alternately rewarding and frustrating, Kitchen's essays are too tender to leave us completely unmoved, but too disembodied to fully engage us.

Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

Kitchen's second collection of essays (after Only the Dance: Essays on Time and Memory) concerns "distance and direction and the way memory works through and within landscape." Having begun as a writer of short stories and then cut her teeth on poetry (she has two collections to her name), Kitchen found her voice in the personal essay. The influence of poetry continues to show in these pieces, where she plays with ideas and language. In "Standard Time," for instance, she recalls childhood days on her grandparents' farm: "Daylight. Day delight. The calypso of four years old, early to rise into the dawn." Describing her brother's eyes in an essay that honors William Gass, she writes, "The shortest distance between two points, hypotenuse blue." Kitchen is a lecturer and writer-in-residence at SUNY at Brockport, and her title will be of interest to academic libraries, particularly those with creative writing programs. Nancy P. Shires, East Carolina Univ., Greenville, NC
Copyright 2001 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 220 pages
  • Publisher: Coffee House Press; 1 edition (September 1, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1566891213
  • ISBN-13: 978-1566891219
  • Product Dimensions: 5.1 x 0.7 x 7.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.1 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,674,184 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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By A Customer on November 30, 2003
Format: Paperback
Lovely collection. Kitchen proves that essays can be as powerful and breathtaking as well crafted poems. She proves the truth does not have to be boring. She turns the form on its head. Though these essays reveal the details of Kitchen's past and present, the poetic writing engages readers and encourages us to explore similar details and associations in our own lives. The writing is lush and vibrant. This is a great book for anyone who appreciates good writing and personal narrative.
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Essays close to poetry. Moments from memory; how memory works. The world's beauty. And grief, loss, regret. Her father's image and memory everywhere. Will you wish for more connective tissue? Probably. Does Distance & Direction wholly achieve the author's aim as art. Yes, surely.

These essays make you want to be more alive yourself—to notice so much, to respond so sensitively to landscape—and to write with such precision and lyrical grace.
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Absolutely delicious reading. So glad someone recommended the work of this rare gift of a writer who, though no longer alive, still remains, through her work, a powerful teacher.
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Phenomenal stuff.
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Format: Paperback
This is just awful. I had to read this as an assignment and then write a three page paper on the question, What Is Memory? After reading this, I got no better sense of what my memories are or how my memory works let alone what the hell I'm supposed to get from her memories. This is entirely all over the place, no two sentences come from or go to the same place and I think there is about one, maybe two complete sentences to boot. The color chapters are just lists of what she remembers being that color. I find it hard to care because I already know what that color is and what things are that color. Thanks for the childrens book chapters thrown in there. Other than that, it makes no sense. Far too much poetry attempted to be squeezed into an essay style format. Just not good.
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