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Tender Buttons Paperback – July 10, 1997
Four girls on a trip to Paris suddenly find themselves in a high-stakes game of Truth or Dare that spirals out of control. Learn More
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From Library Journal
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc.
About the Author
Top Customer Reviews
Modernist movement unite in this small book of exquisite
prose poems that may be read, on one level at least, as
an extended allegory of eroticism (e.g. "tender buttons"
are nipples); & on another, as a manifesto of what was
to become L=A=N=G=U=A=G=E poetry. But you don't really need
to be a scholar to appreciate the freshness & lovely
rhythms of the poems. They are like nothing else that
existed at the the time they were written (not even the
great Victorian "nonsense" poets dared to be this non-referential)
& though they have cast a long shadow across late 20c. PoMo,
there really has been nothing quite like them since.
"Tender Buttons" is divided into three sections: "OBJECTS," "FOOD," and "ROOMS." The first two sections are further subdivided into short entries: "A RED STAMP," "A BOX," "A PLATE," etc. Thus it seems like Stein is presenting the poetic version of a series of still lifes.
Stein often uses repetition, alliteration, and other rhythmic techniques. She totally liberates her compositions from standard syntax and punctuation. Words are strung together in odd combinations. Ultimately she creates a playful, even musical dance of words across the pages.
But I must admit I found this dance largely incoherent. It often reads like some pidgin variant of English, or like the writings of someone who has suffered a neurological trauma to the language center of her brain. I could also compare it to some sort of secret code language of an occult society.
Examples of the style in this book: "Apple plum, carpet steak, seed clam, colored wine, calm seen, cold cream, best shake, potato, potato and no no gold work with pet, a green seen is called bake and change sweet is bready, a little piece a little piece please" (from "APPLE"); "A curving example makes righteous finger-nails" (from "ROOMS").
The book as a whole has an experimental feel, and while I'm not sure how successful the experiment is, "Tender Buttons" is nonetheless quite a remarkable work. At times it's even fun. My suggestion: read sections of the book aloud to someone who does not speak or understand English, and ask them how the pure musicality of the language strikes them.
Ms. Stein is crucial reading to round out one's literary experiance and from that vantage point stars are irrelavant; good, bad or indifferent it is literary history. Did I finish it though? No, I did not.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Gertrude Stein is an acquired taste. In the midst of what seems to be completely meaningless strings of words, I think she is trying to say something and create art, but it comes... Read morePublished 1 month ago by Carissa Johnson
Parisian transplant Sappho court-holding. Chair, Hors d' oeuvres, 27. Discovery, lost, they knew not, but said so (Pick also; Him in way). There? Little.Published 11 months ago by Dasein
I have reviewed this book years ago. I have since purchased a copy as a gift for my nephews.Published 15 months ago by Allen Hagar
Possibly, I am not gifted with the perspicacity of some reviewers to make sense of Stein's masterpiece. Read morePublished 19 months ago by GAYLE COMPTON