From the Publisher
"First books rarely sing with such controlled music. Young has a distinctive and unforgettable voice, virtuosic style, and mature command of his material. Any of these poems testifies to Young's genius. A marvelous book, a marvelous poet."
"In Young's alchemy, succulent scraps are gathered from daily life, distilled, and emerge, finally, as portable nuggets of home, carried wherever the poet may travel." The Voice Literary Supplement
"Young's descriptions of poverty and suffering are vivid and moving, and the poems grow stronger as they move beyond a conventional mix of nostalgia and rage to a more thoughtful and transcendent vision." Library Journal
"A rock-solid book, something you could grab hold of." John Yau
"This poet's gift of storytelling and understanding of the music inherent in the oral tradition of language re-creates for us an inner history which is compelling and authentic and American." Lucille Clifton
A 1993 National Poetry Series selection, this harsh volume explores "home" as a place in the collective African American memory. Many of these poems are children's painful narratives of the rural South; one section entitled "The Spectacle" details freak show attractions from a local fair. A final section, "Beyond the Pale," moves beyond collective memory to contemporary ironies, combining the black oral tradition with strains of the dead white masters (Auden, for example): "See, in the end the tragedy is all/in the telling, not at the moment when the gator/slips out of Ched Peeling's trusty, thoroughbred/hands & gobbles down a few select/youngsters." While the poet's descriptions of poverty and suffering are vivid and moving, the poems grow stronger as they move beyond a conventional mix of nostalgia and rage to a more thoughtful and transcendent vision: "things do/not need me here, this world/dances on its own." A promising first work.-Ellen Kaufman, Dewey Ballantine Law Lib., New York