North Enough

Jan Zita Grover, Author
Jan Zita Grover, Author Graywolf Press $12.95 (170p) ISBN 978-1-55597-235-6
Reviewed on: 12/30/1996
Release date: 01/01/1997
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Grover, formerly a volunteer who worked with people with AIDS and was employed by the division of AIDS activities at San Francisco General Hospital, has moved to Minnesota, where she sees metaphors for the disease in the state's gutted wilderness. The metaphor works, but it is also overworked. While her work as a volunteer with a man named Darryl, who begs her to cook for him and then finds himself unable to eat, is transmitted through stunning details (after Darryl's death, Grover finds herself weeping to his visiting nurse that she misses the scent of the man's diarrhea), there is a sameness to the descriptions of the wilderness. And the indignant writing about clear-cuts-""They aren't at all hard to find in northern Minnesota and Wisconsin, since both regions were and remain primarily the fiefdoms of timber companies and the government""-can't compare to that about Grover's relationship a with another dying man, Eric, or the terror of a visit by the father who sexually abused him. Typical of the San Francisco section is a piece on how counselors try to track down current rumors and investigate their sources (""we can rule out TV and Dear Abby for that one-Howard Stern?"") There are plenty of outside sources and quotes in the Minnesota sections, but since the relationship between person and nature is at heart a solitary interaction, these aren't so touching. The reason Grover moved to Minnesota was because, after three years amidst the tragedy of AIDS, she was burned out. Ravaged nature just isn't as affecting for her, so ultimately the Minnesota sections pale for us, too. (Feb.)
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