Publishers Weekly, 2002-06-17 The much-lauded octogenarian Stone keeps up her appealing, sadder-but-wiser lyricism as she surveys subjects from McCormick reapers to radio astronomy, from fractals to "folded wings" and the fatigue of age, in this eighth collection, her first since the National Book Critics Circle Award winner Ordinary Words (1999). Stone veers easily between compressed stories of her Virginia upbringing and her own life, on the one hand, and scenic Americana on the other, finding material in "New York mountain weather," roaming cats, "the railroad's edge of metal trash." A third sort of Stone poem begins and ends in abstraction, finding spare lines for dejection or reflection, or asking, simply, "How can I live like this?" Stone's lifetime of craft permits her to pare down both description and meditation, and, at her best, make startling use of short, slow lines and of occasional rhyme; standout lyric work like "Train Ride" or "At Eighty-Three She Lives Alone" recalls at once Stanley Kunitz and Kay Ryan, and should find a place in many anthologies. Stone's lesser poems can digress into mere jottings; she tends to top off her terse scenes and speculations with forceful (sometimes forced) closing statements, what she calls "severe abstract designs." Even those poems, however, reflect an observant and contemplative life, focused on simplicities of feeling, yet possessed of unfolding subtleties. (June) Forecast: Stone's advanced age, her accessibility and her high standing among other writers may all provoke comparisons to Marie Ponsot, though her small output brings her closer to Virginia Hamilton Adair. Either way, the NBA should generate interest in this follow-up, and solid sales that might be boosted by displaying this book among nonfiction titles on aging. (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
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