Knock Knock

Heather Hartley, Carnegie Mellon, $15.95 (80p) ISBN 978-088-74851-9-0
Hartley's first book is full of appetite and steeped in European culture—it will make you want to book a one-way ticket to Paris or Naples. Hartley is always attentive to sound, her poems carefully worded but not overwrought; even the table of contents reads like a poem: "The Sorceress of the Russian Sauna," "Sleeping with War and Peace." By turns sexy and wry, Hartley (the Paris editor of Tin House) reminds us that it "takes time and careful attention/ to pluck, savor and suck out / your breathtaking core," but also, in "Advice for the Hirsute," that "you can only wax your crotch so long before finally, finally / the hair creeps back like dark widow's weeds." She treats hunger as a source of humor, delighting in mistranslated menus—"filet of duck with gentle fruit sauce . . . a duet of three pairs"—but also as means of grieving, questioning, and coping: "is it bad luck to eat the salami of a dead man?" Underneath the wit of Hartley's work, there is something probing, as if she is seeking to lay the sad world bare: "I've written all over the city in these black boots." (June)
Reviewed on: 06/28/2010
Release date: 01/01/2010
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