Hadas' debut goes the strenuous route of imaginary voices not her own: Coco Chanel's, Mona Lisa's, Simone Weil's,...

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DESIGNING WOMEN: Portraits and Poems

Hadas' debut goes the strenuous route of imaginary voices not her own: Coco Chanel's, Mona Lisa's, Simone Weil's, Penelope's, Pandora's. Richard Howard does the same sort of thing in his imagined monologues--and the effect in both cases is perforce superliterary and dependent on a high-gloss technique. Hadas has that, and then some. Her Isadora Duncan sequence (""Waves are what gives/ grandeur, grace, gravity--those tragic/ and tiring gifts--their magic/ making my life good copy/ standing still"") combines a razor-blade intelligence with a very fine, very subtle ear. The less successful portraits and ""poetic tapestries""--the one of Simone Weil, for instance--show the deficiencies of the form: too much attempted, and the result is a pile of willy-nilly and precious crystallizations. Still, Hadas can't fail to impress with her polish and gift. All we missed--and missed sharply--was evidence of a personal flame; the surfaces gleam, the invention is manifest, but it's a cold, cold book. We look forward eagerly to seeing more.

Pub Date: Jan. 31, 1979

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: -

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: N/A

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 1979