All-American Girl (Pitt Poetry Series)

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9780822939177: All-American Girl (Pitt Poetry Series)

"Robin Becker's poetry is wise with the consolations and disconsolations of experience. At once poignant, sinewy, and honest, these lyric narratives take exile to heart and to task. All-American Girl is a book of frontiers, in every sense". Alice Fulton

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Review:

Following the thread of her sexual identity through a web of memory and history, Robin Becker tangles with questions of lesbianism, Jewishness, and relationships in her third book of poems, All-American Girl, winner of a 1997 Lambda Award. In the process she holds up Peter Pan as a drag idol, contra dances with farm wives in Robert Frost's New Hampshire, celebrates Yom Kippur in New Mexico, and mourns her sister over roast chicken. To Becker, the "innocence" of the 1950s becomes a lens with which to view her own lessons of experience.

Becker's dominant role is the exuberant observer, the all-American girl of the title. In "Too Jewish" she defends her choice not to get a nose job, while remembering her sister's eagerness to "march/ before the knife, the gleam of good marriages/ in her prescient eye./ My sister only wanted a date," as if one "could fix a problem/ by cutting it away." At other times in the book, her poems consider their subjects with a distanced and ironic sensibility reminiscent of W.H. Auden, as in her poem "Solar," in which a speaker meditates on the sexual identity of a landscape:

The desert is butch, she dismisses your illusions
about what you might do to make your life
work better, she stares you down and doesn't say
a word about your past. She brings you a thousand days,
a thousand suns effortlessly each morning rising.
She lets you think what you want all afternoon.

These are her best poems. They achieve a wonderful sense of negative capability, considering multiple viewpoints without grasping for the easy observation. Nothing is cheap in Becker's poetry, not even the dimestore lipstick in "Dreaming At The Rexall Drug," where the speaker finds, in the memory of watching her grandmother shop for makeup in 1955, a reason to lament her own mortality: "as far as I know, everyone will live forever." Becker, an associate professor of English at Pennsylvania State University, revels in exposing kitsch as the skeletal structure of modern memory, and puts a lively sense of prosody at her service.

From the Back Cover:

'All-American Girl is a lively mix of poems that reflect Robin Becker's sexual and social identity in startling and often magically apt metaphors. The Philadelphia of her girlhood, her ancestral links to the shtetls of Eastern Europe, the mesas of New Mexico, her loved landscape, Italy... meet and meld in surprising, satisfying juxtapositions. This is Robing Becker's best work to date.' As said by Maxine Kumin.

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Becker, Robin
Published by Univ of Pittsburgh Pr (Txt) (1996)
ISBN 10: 0822939177 ISBN 13: 9780822939177
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Book Description Univ of Pittsburgh Pr (Txt), 1996. Book Condition: Good. Former Library book. Shows some signs of wear, and may have some markings on the inside. Bookseller Inventory # GRP85960259

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Book Description University of Pittsburgh Press, Pittsburgh, 1996. Hardcover. 67p. very good first edition in cloth boards. Bookseller Inventory # 106557

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Robin Becker
Published by Univ of Pittsburgh Pr (Txt) (1996)
ISBN 10: 0822939177 ISBN 13: 9780822939177
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Book Description Univ of Pittsburgh Pr (Txt), 1996. Hardcover. Book Condition: Good. Ships with Tracking Number! INTERNATIONAL WORLDWIDE Shipping available. May not contain Access Codes or Supplements. May be ex-library. Shipping & Handling by region. Buy with confidence, excellent customer service!. Bookseller Inventory # 0822939177

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