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A Working Girl Can't Win: and Other Poems (Modern Library Paperbacks) by [Garrison, Deborah]
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A Working Girl Can't Win: and Other Poems (Modern Library Paperbacks) Kindle Edition

3.3 out of 5 stars 31 customer reviews

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Length: 81 pages Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled Page Flip: Enabled

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Every couple of years, some unlucky soul gets designated as the Poet for People Who Hate Poetry, and now it seems to be Deborah Garrison's turn. It's easy to see why: she gets the voice of the late 20th-century New Yorker to perfection, in all its kvetchy, melancholic glory. At times it's like hearing George Costanza channeling Emily Dickinson:

I'm never going to sleep
with Martin Amis
or anyone famous.


Garrison also tends to sidestep metaphysics in favor of more accessible subject matter. That means love (mostly unrequited) and work (mostly unbearable, particularly for a working girl in a testosterone-driven office, wearied by the appearance of yet "another alpha male-- / a man's man, a dealmaker"). No wonder Garrison seems so appealing. And no wonder her publisher has capitalized on this appeal by packaging her book in such a sleek, chic jacket. It would be a mistake, however, to write her off as one more neurotic light versifier. Her metaphoric agility can take you by surprise: note the Atlantic breeze coming "up out of the surf / like a dog gone swimming, / slagging sand and spray every which way / and making the news unreadable." So, too, can the note of resignation that undergirds so many of Garrison's vignettes-in-verse, giving even her most featherweight performances an odd, unchic intensity.

From Library Journal

Garrison, a New York-based poet and senior editor at The New Yorker, has produced this slim volume of highly accessible poetry: the talented observations of a bright young career woman preoccupied with men, sex, clothes, domesticity, and office politics. One only wishes that Garrison would use her vivid skills with the language ("the sun's fuzzy mouth sucking the day back") to explore issues and scenery that more deeply touch the reader's soul. She's capable of gorgeous images; of peonies she writes, "I used to hate/ their furry scent, their fat cheeks packed/ with held breath, the way they'd crumple open/ later, like women in tears." And her poems ring with inner rhythms and off-rhymes, along with smug, self-confident humor: "Are her roots/ rural, right-leaning? Is she Jewish,/ self-hating? Past her sell-by date,/ or still ovulating?" Garrison entertains but shallowly. Recommended with some reservations for larger public libraries.?Judy Clarence, California State Univ. Lib., Hayward
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc.

Product Details

  • File Size: 2108 KB
  • Print Length: 81 pages
  • Publisher: Modern Library; New edition edition (February 19, 2009)
  • Publication Date: February 19, 2009
  • Sold by: Random House LLC
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B002ZFGJSU
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,544,805 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By A Customer on February 23, 2004
Format: Hardcover
Great idea for a collection--poems from the point of view of a female office worker. But there's not much empathy, not much risk, not much music, not much wit, not much anything here. These are above all intellectually and linguistically lazy poems which aim for irony but seldom get beyond archness. No perceptions you couldn't find in the pages of a woman's magazine or on a TV-show about working women--and not even as entertaining as any number of chick lit novels.
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Format: Paperback
This is very good poetry: insightful, articulate, and very witty. Garrison is quite deft with the English language and doesn't litter her writing with clever, irrelevant tricks. She keeps her work focused and to the point. She has the snap and sting of Michael Benedikt.
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Format: Hardcover
Read a review in Newsweek and immediately bought my copy. Rings very true to the things that I am feeling about my own life, career, and friends. I hope she publishes more of her poetry. This has also reawakened my interest in poetry, which I forgot about since the 8th grade!
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By A Customer on June 12, 1999
Format: Hardcover
If Deborah Garrison is the one to liberate poetry from the ivory tower, as some readers suggest, then poetry's doomed. The true liberators far surpass her in wit, grace, and intellect: Dove, Walcott, Bei Dao to name a few--& you don't need to be an academic to notice this.
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By A Customer on May 25, 1999
Format: Hardcover
I wrote a review in Locust & Honey comparing the recent poetic work of Garrison's *Working Girl* and Suzanne Clark's *Sketches of Home* (Canon Press). An excerpt: "How it feels to receive a bulk mailing which asserts that you have won a great prize or thousands of dollars is sometimes how Garrison's poetry comes across. We don't know if we should respond or if a response is even being solicited. This 'bulk-rate' poetry weighs heavy for an instant, then vanishes." -- Adam Spurgeon Zens
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Format: Hardcover
I read almost this entire book this am on the train while on my way to work. I am so thrilled to see the work of a generation x-er (perhaps on the baby boomer cusp) like myself who is so full spectrum- honest, humorous, contemplative, strong, vulnerable, contradictory and therefore, human.
I absolutely loved it. Not so much "Plath" like, but maybe more "Sharon Olds" without all the dick.
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By A Customer on February 2, 1999
Format: Hardcover
the powers that be in the poetry community should be ashamed of themselves. why in the world hasn't any poet publicly criticized these poems? perhaps the art of criticism is truly dead...or perhaps it has something to do with garrison's position at the new yorker?
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Format: Hardcover
I can't imagine not being able to identify with these poems. To me, they embody the essence of being an almost-thirty, underachieving married woman with an overactive imagination. Garrison has put into words the underlying meaning of my everyday life. The poems drip with insecurity, guilt, lust, skepticism, fear and hope. She is full of paradoxes: questioning yet assertive, pessimistic yet hopeful, bright yet unmotivated. What I like best about these poems is their underlying bitterness, but it is a bitterness that is presented with humor and understanding. Nothing turns out like you thought it would, and people continue to disappoint you, yet still you never cease to be amazed by this phenomenon. Every day provides a fresh slap on the face of your idealism. If life gives you lemons, you might not be able to make lemonade, but you can still make toxic Kool Aid. Just don't drink it.
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