Astonishing World: The Selected Poems of Angel Gonzalez, 1956-1986

Angel Gonzalez, Author, Steven F. Brown, Editor, Gutierrez Revuelta, Translator Milkweed Editions $14.95 (264p) ISBN 978-0-915943-58-6
Reading the poems Gonzalez published from 1956 through the early 1960s, it is easy to understand the critical acclaim he received in his native Spain. Reminiscent of Lorca's ballads, these short poems vie with their harsh subject matter to achieve a hard-won lyricism. Though Gonzalez was a child when Franco came to power (perhaps accounting for his enchanting ability to transform disaster into hope), the adult who recalls ``A revolution. / Then a war'' vividly recreates the conflicts the child escaped. In his later work, Gonzalez experiments with different styles and the originality of his voice is destroyed. His poems grow longer, more overtly political and rhetorical. Selections from a 1967 volume focus on contemporary culture and the lurking presence of dictatorial control: ``the military / (discharged at retirement, without swords / or rifles, just / arthritis and insignia).'' He also embraces an animalistic if tongue-in-cheek surrealism: ``If I'm in the city / I snack on just dry afternoons: / I slowly chew the minutes / --after first removing their bones.'' Although this bilingual volume includes selections from two books published since 1972, when Gonzalez took up residence in the U.S., Brown has wisely chosen more liberally from the early work. (Aug.)
Reviewed on: 08/02/1993
Release date: 08/01/1993
Genre: Fiction
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