cover image The Players

The Players

Jill Bialosky. Knopf, $26 (80p) ISBN 978-0-385-35262-8

Bialosky (Intruder), an editor at W.W. Norton, pens a heartfelt ode to the American suburbs and countryside as she explores the complexities of interpersonal, particularly familial, relationships. The book’s opening sequence, “Manhood,” uses baseball terminology to explore the systems and behaviors that surround boys as they grow to be men. Much of the collection concerns itself with time, not only the way its passage changes space—“They are tearing up fields where horses graze/ for designer mansions”—but also how it transforms the way we see our loved ones and ourselves: “One of us joined a support group/ or is leaving the marriage.” Through it all, Bialosky presents language that feels as personal and measured as a mother penciling her son’s height on the kitchen door frame. In “After the Storm” she writes: “The sun makes everything sharp. I pick up/ a seashell and it crumbles. My mother/ is frail. She forgets. Everything is covered/ with Post-its.” Whether its time to “jump in for one last dangerous swim” or just listen as the “cool sea rumbles,” Bialosky isn’t afraid to acknowledge life’s transience or its beauty, and she excels at both. [em](Mar.) [/em]