The Post-Rapture Diner (Pitt Poetry Series)

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9780822955818: The Post-Rapture Diner (Pitt Poetry Series)

This is a collection of Rebecca Harding Davis's writings, who published in popular periodicals over the latter half of the 19th century. The tales combine realism with sentimentalism, while at the same time, Davis also wrote about contemporary issues including those that affected women.

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Review:

Dorothy Barresi's The Post-Rapture Diner, winner of the 1997 American Book Award, presents readers with a series of long narrative poems connected by the myriad pains and contradictions of everyday life. The book repeatedly confronts the tarnished reality of the lower and middle classes where "The story the body lives in is crazy. / It begins and ends and there is / no end to it but change." Imitating the "singed, unseemly world" with unanticipated line breaks and rhythmic jumps, Barresi forces a reader to the question: "Leave or howl, diminish--on all fours at the concrete river-- / where would we go next? / How far away from home is safe? / Face on the river, / who will tell us to stop when we finally arrive?"

With a host of quotidian details ranging from public-access TV to Swiss Army knives, these narratives recall the poems in Campbell McGrath's American Noise. Yet Barresi refuses any postmodern intellectual distance, instead focusing on the confused people stuck in the middle of each meticulously detailed material scene. Barresi finds beauty in the most mundane individuals--as in the final lines of the book's last poem, "The Jaws of Life," when the narrator gives money to "a panhandler working the parking lot, / wearing a black trash bag for a blouse":

...She wouldn't look at me,
but with an odd bobble and fierce craning of her neck,
she compassed the spot where her feet
met burning asphalt, as though to say,
this life and no other!
Neither did she say thank you.
And her toenails were painted bright red.
It is moments like this that brand Barresi as one of the most important of the postmodern narrative poets.

From the Back Cover:

This book is about finding hope, about confronting and overcoming cynicism by discovering a spirituality grounded in the things of this world.

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