cover image Repetition


Rebecca Reilly. Four Way (UPNE, dist.), $15.95 trade paper (228p) ISBN 978-1-935536-58-1

Reilly investigates grief and its reverberations in her debut, a book-length essay of lyric prose written in the fracture caused by her father%E2%80%99s death. Early on, the book%E2%80%99s logic establishes a few focal points: the architecture of Berlin, Paris, and New York; the conflicts within her family; the acquiring and translation of language; the work of Gertrude Stein, Paul Celan, and S%C3%B8ren Kierkegaard, among others; and images of the sky and birds. As the threads of the essay meet at and diverge from these points, Reilly produces a deeply affecting beauty, an aesthetic wrench that works the intellect as much as the heart. In discussing language learning and her elected displacement to foreign cities, she notes that "landscape is not colored in object by object, but driven by verb, in motion, through the city which invents itself, unfolding before you as you arrive%E2%80%94and so you built a new interior landscape%E2%80%94a whole city without memory." And in contemplating the marking of time via the sky, she states, "It is birds who apportion the sky, dividing and distributing it among us." Reilly maintains a control over language that is characteristic of the best poets and an insistence on insight that is familiar from great nonfiction, resulting in a text sworn to its own striking beauty. (Apr.)