AT THE EDGE OF THE BODY by Erica Jong

AT THE EDGE OF THE BODY

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KIRKUS REVIEW

It is clear why Erica Jong's poetry (this is her third collection) is popular these days when so little poetry is. She is funny, witty, easy to read, and her selfinvolved discussions of sexuality and marriage and searching for a new house are diverting; she does not, like other confessional poets, tax the reader with despair, for she is feeling no pain. Lacking real insight on her chief subject, the way of life of women and writers, she nevertheless struggles to be serious and to be taken seriously. But these poems are glib, the work of an imitative, if intelligent, sensibility. They have the tediousness of cocktail repartee: ""I dreamed. . ./ the old exam-dream. . ./ Though I took my degree Phi Bete/ with every honor,/ I trembled in my dream/ that I would fail,"" Or of a cozy chat over morning coffee: ""Because I love him,/ I do not think of him/ as 'Men,'/ but as my friend."" Occasionally she is naughty--in ""If God Is a Dog,"" she describes her pet: ""he frolics and cavorts/ because he has just/ taken a galactic shit/ & found it good."" The one truly fine poem of thia collection, ""The Keys,"" reads like a wistful tribute to Wallace Stevens, and exhibits a few deft and pleasant lines: ""They root in the sand/ with elephant feet,/ yet they also root/ their delicate fronds/ in air./ & these are a comfort/ as you fly/ half bird, half human/ trough a dream of sky."" In this poem, and one or two others, we are permitted an idea of what she can do. But all too often she falls short, and exerts her personal charm to make us accept second-rate work.

Pub Date: March 27th, 1979
Publisher: Holt, Rinehart & Winston