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Greed for money, power, sex, and love is the theme at the heart of this new volume of dramatic monologues by Ai, her fifth book to date. Beginning with "Riot Act," a monologue about the Los Angeles uprising in April 1992, this collection is an exploration of racial and sexual politics through the voices of characters as diverse as Jack Ruby, Lee Harvey Oswald, J. Edgar Hoover, a battered wife who shoots her husband, an adopted child involved in an incestuous relationship, a priest-pedophile, and women in relationships that are going nowhere. Ai's particular gift is her ability to get inside the heads of the characters she writes about; the cumulative effect is no less shocking than the personal and public horrors we read about in the daily newspapers.
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Ai (1947-2010) is the author of eight books of poetry, including the National Book Award–winning Vice. In 2009 she was named a United States Artist Ford Fellow. She was a professor at Oklahoma State University.From Publishers Weekly:
In her fifth book, Ai ( Fate ) imagines and experiences contemporary degrees of American violence: who commits it, who endures it, and who does not. Her poems are narrated by a fairly raunchy cast of public and private people that includes an anonymous looter, Marion Barry, J. Edgar Hoover, a battered wife who finally shoots her husband, and an ice cream man, once molested by his parents, who himself molests children on the job. The violence is physical, sexual, moral; flamboyant or withheld; crafty, or senseless. And the poetry serves to bear witness, not indulge in excess--it is notable, partly, for an austerity. As in her earlier work, the poet's directness of address is an impressively leveling power, laying open complex situations with an odd, unapologetic, sometimes devastating candor: "I shot him, I say, he beat me," reports the abused wife of her husband in "Finished." But there is no redressing an injustice, and nobody can be righteous. The wife concludes, "I do not tell them how the emancipation from pain / leaves nothing in its place." Ai looks for wrongs, and doesn't right them. That isn't easy, and it seems truthful.
Copyright 1993 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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Book Description W. W. Norton, 1993. Hardcover. Condition: New. book. Seller Inventory # M0393035611
Book Description W. W. Norton, 1993. Hardcover. Condition: New. Never used!. Seller Inventory # P110393035611
Book Description W. W. Norton, 1993. Hardcover. Condition: New. Seller Inventory # DADAX0393035611