Human Nature

Alice Anderson, Author New York University Press $55 (400p) ISBN 978-0-8147-0632-9
Beware, all who enter here. Anderson's remarkable first book, winner of the 1994 Elmer Holmes Bobst Award for Emerging Writers, is like an outcropping of hell-the reader is compelled by fascination and horror to keep reading. These are poems of paternal incest and complicity: the brother brought into the sister's room to watch her sexual activity with the father; the mother talking about it with the daughter as if ``we're in this together''; the woman grown, betrayed, enraged, and convinced that ``no man will ever adore me that way again.'' Dedicated to Sharon Olds, these poems bear her influence: the unflinching look at a difficult reality, the rich attention to physical detail, the rush of overwhelming experience, the aesthetic control. The book's last line-``It's the human's nature to survive, welcome to the living''-which also gives the book its grim and hopeful title, celebrates survival. Anderson's life force is implicit in the language throughout these poems, objective, exact, charged with an emotional force given only to those who have been to hell and returned to tell the tale. (Jan.)
Reviewed on: 11/28/1994
Release date: 12/01/1994
Genre: Fiction
Paperback - 104 pages - 978-0-8147-0633-6
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