Pages from a Scrapbook of Immigrants

Morton Marcvus, Author, Morton Marcus, Author Coffee House Press $8.95 (144p) ISBN 978-0-918273-47-5
Marcus ( Origins ) follows several generations of a Jewish family from Czarist Russia to New York City. His subject matter is rich and what he is attemptingto create a scrapbook's unity by evoking a series of distinct moments and charactersis appealing. But too often these poems depict people and events without examining their underlying feelings or significance; the boy at the book's center comes of age without pain or passion, without revealing himself. The language further distances the reader: the poems tend to be flatly, journalistically descriptive and the occasional comparisons and metaphors are often forced or confusing. However, sprinkled throughout the volume are affecting images; in the moving final poem, the narrator watches his daughters sleep and wonders if they dream ``of Russia / or of the tenements of New York / or of the continent that ends here, / the water's beaten silver / slipping outward from the shore.'' One hopes that Marcus will, in future books, include fewer poems more carefully selected, more deeply felt. (Jan.)
Reviewed on: 12/01/1988
Release date: 12/01/1988
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