Traveling Mercies

David Williams, Author Alice James Books $9.95 (80p) ISBN 978-0-914086-98-7
The premise of this debut volume holds promise--a Lebanese-American contrasting the Old World Lebanon his grandparents told about to the modern war-ravaged Lebanon he can only imagine from news photos. And the poems in the book's opening pages appear to live up to the reader's expectations. ``The people I come from were thrown away / as if they were nothing,'' Williams says early on--words which take on greater weight when juxtaposed with the ending of a poem praising a potato: ``if we did not eat your strength, / you'd drive it up, into a flower.'' Delving deeper into the collection, however, one realizes the poet is a one-trick pony, his song a monotone. The parenthetical notation at the end of one poem states that it was written in Mexico. The next is set in Oaxaca, but the landscape itself could be easily be Lebanon; war in Beirut is parallel to the battle of guerrillas in Nicaragua or El Salvador. It all blurs together into unspecific, cliched impressions. Even more distressing, this seems intentional: ``Art and love require / particulars, but I speak, / generally, emblematically, / because the story is not uncommon.'' True, and we've heard it before. (Apr.)
Reviewed on: 01/04/1993
Release date: 01/01/1993
Genre: Fiction
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