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The Halo Paperback – March 1, 2016
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From Publishers Weekly
In this beautifully written and unsettling collection, Young (Torn) moves through the moments of his speaker's oft-broken life as he struggles to come to terms with the truths of his body and the world in which he exists. For much of the book, the speaker hovers between past traumas and how they affect his presentâlearning as a boy "to avoid danger, avoid fear" and as an adult recovering from a fractured spine caused by a car accident: "The dream/ always starts with the sound of breaking glass,/ the still surprising smell of burning rubber." It appears that Young wants the reader to take these experiences literally, but they also double as conceits for the mental and physical pains that derive from his speaker's attempts to negotiate his Catholicism with his homosexuality: "Because my wings had already erupted from between/ my shoulder blades. Because I had coveted/ another man in that secret space of my own head." Although these metaphors are well constructed, it seems that even Young is aware that, at times, they exist more to obscure than to reveal his speaker's truths: "Much of this world remains hidden, and/ all the science in the world cannot illuminate/ every dark corner, much less the corners of the mind." (Mar.)\n
"[Young] questions the limits of human knowledge while expressing unwavering conviction about the strength of the human heart." --Kenyon Review
"Young's poems are so fierce and serrated." --Jeff Gordinier, New York Times Book Review
"The collection showcases Young's skill with forms and repetition - the obsessions of the book are as tightly wound as clock springs onto these poems, the same kind of constraints and limits that a young man recovering from a spinal injury might feel as he watches the world from his hospital bed. The poems return to the same images, the same problems, and the same questions relentlessly, refusing to allow the reader, like the speaker, to escape the cage of the speaker's damaged body and anguished mind.... On the first reading, you'll be entranced by the stories the narrator tells about his strange disappearing wings and the recovery from his car accident. But it's Young's skill with forms and the lyric beauty of his writing even in poems describing intense pain that will make you return to this book. --Jeannine Hall Gailey, The Rumpus
"Between the writing itself and the often elegiac voice, a hallucinatory dreamworld is created from the ashes of accidents and the capricious blessings of the gods. It's a very easy world to inhabit and, through The Halo's revelations, we all learn that we're angels --fallen or about to be." --Greg Marzullo, Lambda Literary
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