Sarah—of Fragments and Lines

Julie Carr, Coffee House (Consortium, dist.), $16 (74p) ISBN 978-1-56689-251-3
A mother’s steep mental decline, a poet’s pregnancy, a daughter’s birth: these events resonate throughout the taut fourth collection from Carr (Equivocal). Yet Carr’s real achievement, in these spare pages, has less to do with story, autobiography, psychological grief, or emotional growth than with the way her lines and phrases sound: as her baby-to-be grows, as her mother loses her memories, as Carr herself shuttles among her triple roles as mother, daughter, writer, individual words and phonemes shuttle back and forth like classical melodies, almost (but not quite) reduced to pure sound. “A word turns in a thought while a foot’s in the, the literate belly: timed, measured kissed./ Mired in rhyme, I rise and am two,” Carr writes in “Grief Abstracts,” and her monostichs, her blocks of short prose, stand always on the edge of abstraction—albeit she never falls in. Repetitions and echoes owe something to Gertrude Stein, but Carr’s earnest music never simply repeats earlier experiment. Rather, her spare songlike pages, interspersed with blocks of clearer prose, portray the strong contrary pulls in her divided mind: “The idea, which she knows to be illogic... is that if she is pregnant the baby will keep her mother alive.” (Sept.)
Reviewed on: 08/16/2010
Release date: 08/01/2010
Genre: Fiction
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