Danger and Beauty

Jessica Tarahata Hagedorn, Author Penguin Books $14 (224p) ISBN 978-0-14-017340-6
From her earliest poems Hagedorn, whose first novel ( Dog eaters ) was nominated for a National Book Award, has concerned herself with music, pop culture, drugs and sex. But these themes cut across barriers--rich and poor, rock and jazz, straight and kinky, all viewed with a delightful humor. The most consistent aspect is the outsider's point of view. Her speakers are forever away from home; they never quite fit in: ``in new york / they ask me if i'm puerto rican / and do i live in queens?'' Hagedorn writes in an early poem, using lower-case letters as if to accent the speaker's sense of insignificance. This volume, in which the early poems and stories are reprinted from limited editions, offers readers fuller insights into the Filipino writer's vibrancy. But a handful of new pieces written during the past decade are some of her strongest work. ``Formalized / by middle age / we avoid crowds / but still / love music,'' she begins a poem that goes on to juxtapose the speaker's infant daughter's ``pink and luscious flesh'' with friends in El Salvador whose relatives are disappearing. The fun-loving persona of 20 years ago has developed a mature, distinctive vision. (Mar.)
Reviewed on: 03/01/1993
Release date: 03/01/1993
Genre: Fiction
Paperback - 230 pages - 978-0-87286-387-3 - 978-0-87286-387-3
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