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Blood, tin, straw
Olds, Sharon.
Adult Nonfiction PS3565.L34 B58 1999

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From Publishers' Weekly:

This sixth collection from Olds (Satan Says) revisits the obsessive roles and disturbing bodily images that have become her trademarks: she presents herself once again as lover, mother, daughter and voyeur. Olds certainly has a flair for diction, whether describing the aftermath of protected sex ("gore condom in the toilet a moment/ like a sea pet in its bowl, the eel/ taking our unconceived out to the open ocean") or the act of childbirth: "in the crush/ between the babies' skull-plates and the skin/ of the birth-gates, I wanted the symphesis/ more cherished." Anecdotes meant to shock abound. One poem records oral fixations: "I want to suck/ sweet, hot milk, with the salt/ silk of the human woman along/ my cheek." Another outlines death wishes: "I wanted to be/ fucked blind, battered half dead with it." One at a time, these scenes can be arresting; one after another, they make parts of the book as tiresomely, disappointingly repetitive as a sex therapist's case notes. Olds's arrangement of her work into five sections of fourteen poems each (the three title elements, plus "Fire" and "Light") does nothing to counter the book's overall sameness. Though she anticipates charges of narcissism with the poem "Take the I Out," Olds's descriptions of other victims can seem tactless, even predatory-a girl burned by napalm flings her "arms/ out to the sides, like a plucked heron"; the ill-fated crew of the space shuttle Challenger becomes a "burning jigsaw puzzle of flesh." Olds still suceeds, though, when she attends to her own body, where her skills continue to make her, as she writes, "a message conveyor,/ a flesh Morse." (Oct.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

From Library Journal:

Olds enjoys the reputation of a phenomenon; her collections of poetry (from Satan Says onward) remain in print, discussed, and passed from hand to hand throughout the United States. Her sixth book is without doubt her strongest to date. Olds's trademark has long been her astonishing candor--about her body, her husband's body, her parents' bodies, sex before and during her marriage, fear, dread, death, and hope--and this quality is still firmly in place here, but she has added to it a new strength and lyricism of metaphor and image. In "The Lips," for instance, she playfully deploys Neoplatonic metaphysics in this paean to her husband's love: "...did he love me before/ he knew me, before I was born? Maybe/ his love drew me to earth, my head/ moved to the surface of my mother's body, and.../ I came toward him in her ribbons, through her favors." She has turned her gaze to the unearthly with touching results: "Without desire or rage/ I would watch that dust celestium as the pain/ on my matter died and turned to spirit/ and wandered the cloud world of home,/ the ashes of the earth." Olds may be relied upon to startle--she uses many words that cannot be reprinted here--but the shock she delivers is that of true poetry. For all poetry collections.--Graham Christian, formerly with Andover-Harvard Theological Lib., Cambridge, MA (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

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