All about feeling. Lyricism, poetry, decoration, or rhetoric; nothing matters if the body cannot feel words strongly and with intimacy. There is no use comparing this work to Ray Carver’s as the style is so contrasting as to cause a shudder in one’s bones. But feeling exists in both writers’ words; powerful and heartfelt. The beauty from the onset of Smart’s troubling love affair erupting in the foreground is on the level of the ugliness present in a Carver tale. Both as experience to the nth degree. So let’s quit the comparisons and leave the work alone to stand on its own merits. Let’s not even call it a poem, though it is lyrical and beautifully written. If Sharp’s words become pretentious and decorative then my review will be a scathing reprehension of her work. But let me read first with an open mind and a body willing to feel all she has to offer it.…The sand of catastrophe is loosed and every breast is marked with doom.
Great early line, but by midpoint she has lost me. Smart veers from her object, this love or obsession, and removes herself to Ottawa and home. A father’s desk. And misunderstanding. Though lost at sea I remain in her boat as my journey is short and rather painless so far. I am thinking the book is not the work of genius Brigid Brophy claims it is in her original foreword republished in this Vintage edition. Again, more unfulfilled publisher hype, at least so far.
While reading Chapter Six I was forced to do a bit of research on Elizabeth Smart as the text offered no reference point from which to ascertain what in the hell she was talking about. Canada and war and who knows what else? The writing seemed good enough, certainly not the poetic genius Brophy claimed she was, but somewhat better than most, and of course, lyrical. But if Smart is going to keep me reading I am going to have to add something to the conversation. And I am not happy about it. Suspicions remain that I have again been hoodwinked by the blurbs and reviews. Now I am concerned that too much respect is being given to Smart on my part and I subsequently will be disgusted with myself for succumbing again to charms. The object of Smart’s love was the poet George Barker who history reports would shamelessly would go on to have a total of fifteen children from several different women. (That in itself makes me hate him.) And Smart herself would carry four of them (which does not help). And as I pick up again in Chapter Seven I finally say enough of this flowery crap and shut the book down for good.