A Village Life

Louise Gluck, Author . Farrar, Straus & Giroux $23 (80p) ISBN 978-0-374-28374-2

Pulitzer Prize–winner Glück's 11th collection is set in an unidentified rural hill town somewhere in the Mediterranean. Less narrative than it is impressionistic, the book takes its undulating shape from natural cycles—the obvious but nonetheless awesome impact of days and seasons changing. Glück has shown herself to be an astute, heartbreaking and often funny observer of everyday violence. In poems like “At the River” and “Marriage,” she tracks life's messy movement from innocence and curiosity through lust, loss, anger and resignation. However, the relationships she studies are as much to the land—with its single, looming mountain, worked fields and increasingly dried-up river—as between individuals. Glück's achievement in this collection is to show, through the exigencies of the place she has chosen, how interpersonal relationships are formed, shaped and broken by the particular landscape in which they unfurl. Though the poems are intimate and deeply sympathetic, there remains the suggestion of a distance between Glück and the village life she writes about. When she declaims, “No one really understands/ the savagery of this place,” it feels as though she is speaking less about her chosen subjects than about herself. (Sept.)

Reviewed on: 09/21/2009
Release date: 09/01/2009
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Paperback - 72 pages - 978-0-374-53243-7
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