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Then Suddenly--
     

Then Suddenly--

by Lynn Emanuel
 

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Finalist for ForeWord Magazine’s 1999 Poetry Book of the Year

A reader and a writer don their respective roles and embark on the journey of a book. This is their story—ultimately a love story—darkly funny, mournful, testy. It is about a reader who at times presides over the page like a god, and at others follows the leash of the author's

Overview

Finalist for ForeWord Magazine’s 1999 Poetry Book of the Year

A reader and a writer don their respective roles and embark on the journey of a book. This is their story—ultimately a love story—darkly funny, mournful, testy. It is about a reader who at times presides over the page like a god, and at others follows the leash of the author's voice through the dark streets of the book like a dog, and it is about a writer of determined slipperiness.  As we read, we think that each of us is The Reader, the one who knows the Real Story. But the more we think we understand, the more the story moves away from us—all is not what it seems.

This eagerly awaited third volume by the poet whose work The New York Times described as "at once charmed and frightening" is a book of high-spirited subversiveness, a work of argument, seduction, and a relentless devotion to language. Then, Suddenly bristles with the sound of the author's voice—insistent, vital, hilarious, and iconoclastic—tearing away at the confinement of the page and at the distance between the page and the reader. Emanuel's images are dazzling. She creates a performance that is fearsome and funny in its portrayal of the argument between the work of the text and the world of the body. The Gettsyburg Review has called her a writer of "exquisite craftsmanship" who can "strike from language . . . images chiseled clean as bas-relief." Then, Suddenly is a book of spectacle and verve, part elegy, part vaudeville.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

“Lynn Emanuel’s agile poems in Then Suddenly— are often about the construction of self in language, and,  indeed, the act of writing poetry itself. Thier sustained reflexivity, verbal inventiveness and associative wittiness connect her work to the New York School of John Ashbery and Kenneth Koch, and through them, to the great Modernist precursor, Gertrude Stein.”
Women's Review of Books

“The poems in Then, Suddenly require a reader’s willingness to connect the dots of voice and story, and to watch oneself connect the dots, but Emanuel makes the willingness surprisingly easy to give.  She may eschew feeling, but in this she is somewhat ingenuous, rewarding her reader’s attentions throughout with vivid, indeed “moving” metaphors.”
Boston Review

“Lynn Emanuel’s poems have a rare power: they connect to the world through estrangement. Here is a restless, seeking intelligence, finding itself in beautiful language that makes the reader feel at home in sounds and cadences and figures, even while the homelessness of each of the poet’s perceptions adds to the poem’s force. This is a moving, challenging book.”
—Eavan Boland

“The trajectory of Lynn Emanuel’s dazzling career has been in the direction of self-consciousness; Then, Suddenly questions even further the relationship between writer and reader:  a tango, a coupling, a gamble in which the author seems to hold all the cards. But not so fast, say the dead, who confound and complicate her intent; Not so fast, says time. Or faster, haunting these sophisticated, deeply knowing poems into troubled life.”

—Mark Doty

“There is some Eliot here, some Stein. Emanuel carries self-consciousness to the shrieking edge—and almost falls in. Well, she does fall in. She is a master of the negative, but she doesn’t sigh in boredom; she yells in pain. Her vision is original; so is her language. A terrific book!”

—Gerald Stern

“A determined, smart-alecky poet eyes her reader constantly through this cranky, quirky, third collection, sizing us up . . . she nevertheless varies her lines and her forms adroitly; piles on gorgeous images [and] celebrates masters and mentors.”

Publishers Weekly

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
A determined, smart-alecky poet eyes her reader constantly through this cranky, quirky third collection, sizing us up to the point of exhaustion: "I'm tired of the dark forest of this book/ and the little trail of bread crumbs I have/ to leave so readers.../ can...follow along." Emanuel often has the tone of a teacher who just knows the class won't get her point. She nevertheless varies her lines and her forms adroitly (if conventionally); piles on gorgeous images; celebrates American masters ("Walt, I Salute You!") and mentors--only to mockingly renounce narrative, content, emotion (especially emotion) in order to get at a constantly restated goal: "Then, suddenly.../ I am gone, and all that's left is a voice.../ ...gobbling up the landscape,/ an airborne cloud of selfhood giving a poetry reading/ in which, Reader, I have made our paths cross!" To say that such pronouncements sound stiff and a tad ridiculous at this late theoretical date is hardly necessary, especially when Emanuel fails to back them up with splinterings of the self-in-language that ring true. But fans of Deborah Garrison and other chroniclers of the collisons between the bourgeois writing life ("Outwardly, my life is one of irreproachable tedium") and desires for walks on the wild side will appreciate crackly poems like "Dressing the Parts": "So, here we are,/ I am a kind of diction// I can walk around in/ clothed in six-inch heels// of arrogation and scurrility./ And what are you// wearing? Is it those boxer/ things again? I hope it is// those boxer things/ and nothing else." (Oct.) Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780822957096
Publisher:
University of Pittsburgh Press
Publication date:
09/28/1999
Series:
Pitt Poetry Series
Edition description:
1
Pages:
96
Product dimensions:
6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.50(d)

Meet the Author

Lynn Emanuel is the author of three previous poetry collections: Hotel Fiesta; The Dig; and Then, Suddenly-. Her work has been included in the Pushcart Prize anthology, Best American Poetry, and The Oxford Book of American Poetry. Emanuel is the recipient of numerous awards, including the Eric Matthieu King Award from The Academy of American Poets, two National Endowment for the Arts Fellowships, and a National Poetry Series Award. She is professor of English at the University of Pittsburgh.

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