Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Stories That Listen Reviewed in Publisher's Weekly

Stories That Listen
Priscilla Becker, Four Way (UPNE, dist.), $15.95 trade paper (72p) ISBN 978-1-935536-05-5

This second book by Becker (Internal West) speaks from a stark place beyond heartbreak, after the dust has settled, where "It is a mistake to call logic/ cold: it has no temperature at all./ It merely reveals itself/ when the last of the emotion is gone." Cast in uneven free verse lines, this book begins and ends in resignation; it's less a journey than a confirmation of what its speaker suspected all along, that life is both disappointing and unfailingly interesting. At times these lines echo the lonely brilliance of Sylvia Plath or Louise Gl├╝ck, and, of course, their forebear Emily Dickinson, for whom the natural world mirrored the inner one. Becker's claustrophobia begets insight--Becker often addresses a hazy "you," a lost beloved, but really this is the self addressing the self, saying what only the self needs to hear or can understand, "the kind of thing/ one notices--/after the extremes-- /a kind of sobriety." (Oct.)