In this excellent fifth collection, following 1995's The Ghost Trio, the effect of the poems, whose primary metaphor is photography, is that of a double exposure that comes out terribly right. A series of pieces titled ""Six In All,"" used to introduce successive sections, stitches the collection together in its telling of a Civil War-era family photo session. The early state of the art and the disheveled state of the union are literally brought home, and gilded with Bierds's unerring sense of alliteration and rhythm: ""My mother swallowed, saw the shutter spiral down,/ her face a blend of dust and wonder--/ that she might gather over glass, that she might claim,/ across the flecks of bromide salt, some bygone self."" Painters and inventors make cameo appearances throughout the book. In one hilarious poem, a distracted D.H. Lawrence tries to chat with a nearly deaf Thomas Edison. ""The backward grin of the blue whale,"" sings the poet. ""Yes, the platinum spin of the fuel,"" agrees the scientist. By the end, time catches up to Bierds as the camera work she examines is an X-ray of her father's chest: ""Because on film/ the spots are dark, my mother asks/ if, in the lung, they might be white."" The careful use of ""lung"" in the singular is just one more smart choice in this collection of details finely rendered and famous renderers finely detailed. (Nov.)
Reviewed on: 11/03/1997 Release date: 11/01/1997 Genre: Fiction
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