THE MAN WHO SHOOK HANDS by Diane Wakoski

THE MAN WHO SHOOK HANDS

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KIRKUS REVIEW

In the last half dozen years, readers--young women readers, in particular--have been popularly attracted to Wakoski's poetry of candid, unliterary vulnerability, her sore defeats and plain-Jane regrets. Like the old TV show, ""Queen For a Day,"" where the winner would be the housewife who could relate the most heartcrumbling story of woe, Wakoski's poems set off--in a plain, unmusical, prosy, almost diaristic style--her travails. Here she is trained upon emotional discrepancies, why a reciprocity of feeling doesn't necessarily develop between a particular man and woman. ""I spent a night with a man who, upon leaving, shook hands/ with me. I have not recovered from the shock yet."" And a defense of bearing-up under the pain of knowing ""What it's like/ to love beauty/ yet be clothed in fat. . ./ . . . to be common/ and thus unnoticed by all."" Wakoski's sensitivity, cut seemingly by the yard, is becoming subject, however, to the law of diminishing returns; more and more the flatness, the lack of any stylistic grace, the advice-to-the-lovelorn-ness comes out like poetry for those who want a quick shot of consolation and sympathy for our shared unloveliness without any of poetry's demands--or beauty. Soft-headedness is the risk in work like this, and Wakoski isn't battling it much at all.

Pub Date: March 3rd, 1978
Publisher: Doubleday