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Handwriting (Signed)

Ondaatje, Michael

651 ratings by Goodreads
ISBN 10: 0771068778 / ISBN 13: 9780771068775
Published by Toronto: McClelland & Stewart, 1998
Condition: Fine Hardcover
From Sanctuary Books, A.B.A.A. (New York, NY, U.S.A.)

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About this Item

Blue cloth over boards with copper detail on upper board, copper lettering on spine; photo-illustrated dust jacket; pp. [8], 78. First edition, signed by Ondaatje on the title-page. Book and jacket are without flaw. Poems. Bookseller Inventory # 7148

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Bibliographic Details

Title: Handwriting (Signed)

Publisher: Toronto: McClelland & Stewart

Publication Date: 1998

Binding: Hardcover

Book Condition:Fine

Dust Jacket Condition: Fine

Signed: Signed by Author(s)

Edition: 1st Edition.

About this title

Synopsis:

The poems in Handwriting are memories of Sri Lanka: the rituals and traditions, history and geography, the smells and tastes and colours of his first home. Here are sunless forests, cattle-bells, stilt-walkers 'with the movement of prehistoric birds'; a Buddha buried 'so roots/like fingers of a blind monk/spread for two hundred years over his face'; 'saffron and panic seed, lotus flowers, sandalwood; a lover, who lay her fearless heart/light as a barn owl/against him all night'. Handwriting is an elegy for lost childhood, for a culture and language lost to the turmoil of history, but it is also a glimpse of the source of the writer's delicate, erotic, mysterious imagination. By focussing on writing frankly about beautiful things, Ondaatje takes the poems beyond narrative to these simple, deeply sensual images - given to us in a language that is pared, cursive and exquisite.

Review:

Sumptuous, steamy, downright sexy: on the blush-o-meter Ondaatje scores a 10. Those who can't get enough of his melodious prose--most notably in The English Patient, which earned him the Booker Prize in 1992--will find the same lyrical genius in his verse. In his 10th collection, Ondaatje transports us to his childhood home of Sri Lanka. With strikingly sensuous imagery, he conjures a land of bangles, cattle bells, stilt-walkers, and a 1000-year-old buddha "buried in Anuradhapura earth, / eyes half closed, hands / in the gesture of meditation... roots / like the fingers of a blind monk / spread for two hundred years over his face." As the title suggests, Handwriting is an elegiac tribute to the ancients who in "wild cursive scripts... spent all their years / writing one good book"; whose "physical yearning / became permanent" and "desire became devotional." In his Sanskrit and Tamil love poem, "The Nine Sentiments," Ondaatje not only proves most definitively that music is the key to unlocking a reader's heart, but also argues for poetry's healing powers in times of strife:

The brush of sandalwood along a collarbone
Green dark silk
A shoe left
on the cadju tree terrace
these nights when "pools are
reduced by constant plungings"
Meanwhile a man's burning heart
his palate completely dry
on the Galapitigala Road
thinking there is water in that forest
Ondaatje's final poem, "Last Ink," explains why the need to preserve human experience through art is as instinctive as the desire to die in a lover's arms. Dealing with large-scale emotions and scenes of love and war, these are poems that strike to the heart. --Martha Silano, Amazon.co.uk

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