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My Life (Green Integer Books, 39) Paperback – May 1, 2002
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Eight years later, when Ms. Hejinian was forty-five, she revised My Life, adding eight new poems (to bring the total up to forty-five) and inserting eight new sentences into each of the previous poems, adding a new layer of understanding and complexity to the earlier work and questioning the idea that a piece of writing (or the evolution of the self) can ever be "finished."
Additionally, the details that she focuses on in these poems and the way these details are ordered comprise a quiet subversion of traditional biographical structure. Ms. Hejinian avoids the normal biographical trajectories-- "here's how I became a success" or "here are the most important events in my life" -- instead she focuses on minutae like the pattern of tiles in a floor. She also resists the impulse to explain whether these details influenced her later self or even why they are important at all, leaving much up to the reader to determine.
This all contributes to making this a wonderful, astonishing, surprising book; a new way of investigating the experience of being human.
If you're looking for a plot or storyline, look elsewhere. You won't find it here. If what you're looking for is experimental poetry that grasps beauty, then here it is. This book is great for bathroom reading or to discuss with your highly intellectual friends. I can't imagine anybody reading this book who doesn't enjoy the intellectual fittings of life.
I guarantee, no matter how bright you are, you'll get lost reading this book. What's going on? What does she mean? Will we ever know? Well, no, not really. But I suppose that's not the point. I believe the point here is that every reader is allowed to pluck which meaning they wish from the text, and create whichever story lines they wish. Fortunately, it is written in very short increments for the attention impaired, such as myself.
The exposition itself is brilliant. There are as many chapters as there were years in her life when she wrote the book, and there are as many sentences in each chapter as there are chapters. I stole the idea myself the first time I read the book and wrote a memoir called "My Crib of My Life." People liked it (or at least they said they did.) Of course my memoir was nowhere as cryptic or as beautiful. If cryptic and beautiful are what you are looking for, then you will definitely find it here.
The book's stucture also allows Hejinian the freedom to stretch out without losing the reader. If you get lost on one poem, you are right back on track for the next one.
The writing is complex without being hermetic. Difficult without being resistant. My Life is a necessary text. Generous in its insights, its complicated declarations. This is a perfect marriage of philosophy, poetry, and mathematics.
Read this always and often.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Imagine you find shoeboxes full of polaroids, jumbled in no particular order, one for each year of your life. Read morePublished on December 29, 2010 by Jacques Delanoë
As mush as I love, and say that I love these widely experimental and new ways of looking at things, I cannot really work through the language presented as a dialogue to discuss... Read morePublished on June 14, 2010 by J. Edgar Mihelic, MBA
If you like poetry, disguised as prose, with sentences oddly juxtaposed enlarging their possible meaning (I do), then read this autobiography.Published on June 18, 2008 by W. S. Ikard