The Pedestrians

The Pedestrians

by Rachel Zucker
     
 

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"Zucker is a poet of bottom-scraping, blood-chilling existential anxiety, one among many, and a poet of New York City, one among many, and a poet of American Jewish inheritance, one among many, and one of the funniest, too."—Boston Review

Rachel Zucker returns to themes of motherhood, marriage, and the life of an artist in this double collection of

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Overview

"Zucker is a poet of bottom-scraping, blood-chilling existential anxiety, one among many, and a poet of New York City, one among many, and a poet of American Jewish inheritance, one among many, and one of the funniest, too."—Boston Review

Rachel Zucker returns to themes of motherhood, marriage, and the life of an artist in this double collection of poems. Fables, written in prose form, shows the reader different settings (mountains, ocean, Paris) of Zucker's travels and meditations on place. The Pedestrians brings us back to her native New York and the daily frustrations of a woman torn by obligations.

That Great Diaspora

I'll never leave New York & when I do
I too will be unbodied—what? you
imagine I might transmogrify? I'm from
nowhere which means here & so wade out
into the briny dream of elsewheres like
a released dybbyk but can't stand
the soulessness now everyone who ever
made sense to me has died & everyone I love
grows from my body like limbs on a rootless tree

Rachel Zucker is the author of Museum of Accidents, which was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award. She is also the author of The Bad Wife, The Last Clear Narrative, Eating in the Underworld, and Annunciation.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
★ 02/24/2014
This self-described “woefully feminine” collection from Zucker (Museum of Accidents) is marked by a frayed, neurotic humanism and composed with thrilling deftness and control. Split into two “books,” the opening section is called “Fables,” and is composed of prose poems identified by minimalist headers and written in the third person. The language here edges toward pure prose, making the works disarmingly accessible and unflinching in their narrations of the struggles of married life and the rhythms of misunderstanding: “Her scrunched wet face made him feel helpless and feeling helpless made him angry and his anger made him mean.” Zucker’s small, sharp scenes sing with a magnetic tension and disappointment. The second section, “The Pedestrians,” moves into the first person; its title evokes both ordinary people and the blinking crosswalks of New York. Zucker finds her city oppressive yet extraordinary: “the disaster of human progress I have just left is then inescapably obvious how could I? live like?” she stutters. Feelings about home and motherhood are similar; who is she but “interior interior/ interior the incidental woman/ now color shape no face at all.” Zucker constructs poems from common sorrow, but they are worried and whittled down to something extraordinary, where even dreams unnerve: “all bark no bud/ or blossom/ can break through.” (Apr.)
Library Journal
03/01/2014
These diary-like, mostly dark prose poems focus on the events of daily life yet never seem real. The closest they get is a kind of Daliesque quality with the iconic watch melting in the poetic desert. National Book Critics Circle finalist Zucker (Museum of Accidents) writes as though she's waiting for the other shoe to drop. Most of the poems engage in a subtle—sometimes too subtle— humor. In "real poem (personal statement)," for example, the poet writes, "I skim sadness like fat off the surface/ of cooling soup." In the next line, she says, "Don't care about/ metaphor," but obviously she does. It could be that she's aware of the contradiction and means her comment to be ironic. If so, it never comes across. VERDICT Many of these poems are anecdotes written in a flat, prosaic tone, as in the title poem, which consists of stream-of-consciousness commentary then ends by noting this poem is "timely" but not likely "timeless"—and therefore "pedestrian." The same could be said for most of these poems.—C. Diane Scharper, Towson Univ., MD

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781933517896
Publisher:
Wave Books
Publication date:
04/01/2014
Pages:
160
Sales rank:
757,121
Product dimensions:
5.30(w) x 7.90(h) x 0.50(d)

Meet the Author


Rachel Zucker is the author of Museum of Accidents (Wave Books, 2009), which was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award. She is also the author of The Bad Wife Handbook (Wesleyan University, 2007), The Last Clear Narrative (Wesleyan University, 2004), Eating in the Underworld (Wesleyan University, 2003), and Annunciation (The Center for Book Arts, 2002), as well as the co-editor (with Arielle Greenberg) of Starting Today: 100 Poems for Obama’s First 100 Days and Women Poets on Mentorship: Efforts and Affections (both from the University of Iowa Press). She is co-author (also with Arielle Greenberg) of Home/birth: a poemic, a nonfiction book about birth, friendship, and feminism. Her memoir, MOTHERs, will be published by Counterpath Press in 2013. A graduate of Yale and the Iowa Writers' Workshop, Zucker teaches at NYU and the 92nd Street Y. She currently lives in NYC with her husband and three sons and was awarded an National Endowment for the Arts Creative Writing Fellowship in 2012.

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