Publishers Weekly - Publisher's WeeklyMourning the death of his 16-year-old niece, Gloria, to whom this work is dedicated, Harrison (Legends of the Fall; Dalva) here waxes more philosophical and romantic than in any of his previous poetry collections. His New Age ideology is problematic, however, in its attempts to combine primitive myths with a landscape he has absorbed firsthand. The natural world of northern Michigan reflected in the poems will be familiar to readers of Harrison's fiction, but the transformation of ordinary creatures into spiritual beings will ring false. The long title poem, comprising nearly half the book, is a rambling, often surrealistic meditation on the meaning of life and death, begging comparison to a river journey in which "how the water goes / is how the earth is shaped.'' Fragmented at best, this and other poems in the book's first section touch memories of people and rivers that fill the narrator's past, but do not adequately share these with the reader. Ten poems appearing in print for the first time, which end the collection, are less ambitious, but far more successful in exploring casual moments and conveying a sense of their importance. (Oct.)
Library Journal - Library JournalThe long title sequence of Harrison's seventh poetry collection is a journey upward from tragedy and unconsciousness, a fitful amalgam of memory and myth, meditation and nightmare, lucidity and delirium. It's the life-passing-before-one's-eyes at the precipice of death rendered in tranquility. In "trying to become alert enough to live,'' the narrator sinks and surfaces, clutching at vivid bits of psychic debris that collectively define "the longest journey taken in a split second.'' Harrison combines the rustic, the portentous, and the wry ("I had forgotten what it was I liked/ about life. I hear if you own a chimpanzee/ they cease at a point to be funny'') with mixed but often penetrating results. Spare, idiographic illustrations by Russell Chatham complement the poems. Fred Muratori, Cornell Univ. Lib.
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