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Ledger
     

Ledger

by Susan Wheeler
 

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The many meanings of “economy” are the ground for the mediation and lament of Ledger, Susan Wheeler’s fourth book. In its Greek origins, economy referred to the stewardship of a household and, as it developed, the word also came to include aspects of government and of religious faith. Ledger places an individual’s crisis of

Overview

The many meanings of “economy” are the ground for the mediation and lament of Ledger, Susan Wheeler’s fourth book. In its Greek origins, economy referred to the stewardship of a household and, as it developed, the word also came to include aspects of government and of religious faith. Ledger places an individual’s crisis of spirituality and personal stewardship, or management of her resources, against a backdrop of a culture that has focused its “economy” on financial gain and has misspent its own tangible and intangible resources.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Combining pomo referential reach with spontaneity and non sequitur--"In any structure, you can obtain cable service"--Wheeler (Smokes) spans time and place to get at the multiple interconnections of economy and the consuming self in this fourth collection. Small-scale linguistic transactions trade bits of Chaucerian complaint ("Purse be full again, or else I must die") for current banality ("arc/ of trucks on the distant interstate, your what the fuck/ and then her call"). Amid competing stimuli, weighty and lovely lines do stand out, and the book resolves into its final section of six, "The Debtor in the Convex Mirror." Beginning with a description of the 1514 painting The Moneylender and His Wife, the poem moves in and out of scenes of Renaissance Antwerp (where the painting was done), contemporary Brooklyn, and a 1960s drugstore where teenage girls steal magazines. Similarities to John Ashbery's canonical, ekphrastic "Self-Portrait in a Convex Mirror" are not accidental; though this poem does fall short of its great model, it does produce a unique, peculiar subjectivity that fugues around different kinds of debt--and guilt. (Apr.) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
Winner of the 2004 Iowa Poetry Prize, Wheeler's third book of verse explores the intersection of culture, materialism, and art, mining economic, historical, and literary sources from Chaucer to Pound to John Ashbery. Wheeler's narrative line can be clear ("Having trafficked in ideas, they turned to birds, and/ soon depleted stocks in quails, purple finches,/ black-capped chickadees, goldfinches, brown/ thrashers, orioles.") or boldly inscrutable ("When you get your job/ in the powder factory/ I'll macrame your mask"). The crown jewel of this collection is the long poem "The Debtor in the Convex Mirror," which involves a painting by 16th-century Flemish artist Quentin Massys titled The Money Lender and his Wife. In both works, a wife is distracted from her fancy book of hours-"Prayer book illumined: luxury that, and to ignore: only more"-by her husband's counting of gold "wafers, thin and impressed with their marks." The poem then shifts into an adolescent shoplifting scene involving a stolen lipstick (a concave surveillance mirror mirrors another in the painting). Wheeler conveys, in all its complexity, the way objects can embody us and the selves we want. Recommended for most collections.-E.M. Kaufman, Dewey Ballantine LLP Law Lib., New York Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781587296017
Publisher:
University of Iowa Press
Publication date:
04/01/2005
Series:
Iowa Poetry Prize
Sold by:
Barnes & Noble
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
94
File size:
331 KB

Meet the Author

Susan Wheeler is the author of the poetry collections Bag ‘o’ Diamonds, which received the Norma Farber First Book Award of the Poetry Society of America and was short-listed for the Los Angeles Times Book Award; Smokes, which won the Four Way Books Award in 1998; and Source Codes. A novel, Record Palace, will be published by Graywolf Press in May 2005. Her work has appeared in seven editions of the Scribner anthology Best American Poetry as well as in the Paris Review, London Review of Books, Verse, Talisman, the New Yorker, and many other journals. On the creative writing faculties at Princeton University and the New School's graduate program, she lives in Rocky Hill, New Jersey.

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