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Publishers WeeklyA master of the dramatic monologue in her last book, Ai, who died in March 2010, dives into the minds and memories of a diverse array of characters, both fictional and non. The characters include Elizabeth Custer, the outspoken wife of the general in the Civil War; a young man who is raped by his roommate after a graduation celebration turns to debauchery; Manesh, a scholar of philosophy from New Delhi who is nearly suffocating in a box aboard ship, smuggling himself to America. Despite their differences, these characters all channel Ai's own voice and concerns. In "Fatherhood," a part-Irish woman fantasizes about fitting in at an Irish street fair. "The Hunt" involves an interracial marriage with a prominent woman named Florence. Several of the poems explore the speakers' troubled relationship to others-mainly family: "We fathers, sons brothers, uncles, and husbands,/ Confused and Sputtering into our glasses, Paralyzed by what passes for living/ In the age of terror and misgiving." This book makes a powerful conclusion to an important poet's career.
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