THE WOMAN BEHIND YOU by Julie Fay

THE WOMAN BEHIND YOU

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KIRKUS REVIEW

The second book by an East Carolina Univ. professor (Portraits of Women, 1991) continues in the monotones of her last and embodies the same tough-talking feminist point of view. In autobiographical narratives, Fay makes clear she's ""traveled through/years, countries, and lovers"" hoping to be ""not ordinary."" Her meandering verse certainly supports these facts, if not her aspiration. In ""Tritogeneia: Recurrent Dream,"" the poet channels the goddess Athena and beds an anonymous lover for a one-night stand in Greece; similarly, in ""Il etait une fois,"" she, after abandonment by one lover in France, quickly picks up another; she boasts of a perfect, gentle lover in ""Christmas Card from Vence, France,"" and copulates in the waters offshore from Sicily in ""Sicilian Sestets at Etna."" Not merely a European sex tour, Fay's poems also travel abroad: she mocks the bicentennial of Bastille Day in Paris; she goes Christmas shopping in Venice; and she swims naked with her elderly mother at the French seaside. A number of moving poems eulogize this mother, who died shortly after the European trek: following the funeral back home, the poet sleeps in her mother's bed; later sees her mother in a peasant woman abroad (""Santorini Daughter""); and thinks of her, eight months after, while studying near the French-Spanish border (""Prisms""). Rougher verses recall the poet's days of ""hard drugs"" and groovy times. Trite idioms and imagery (""dressed to beat the band,"" ""a rush of silent violins,"" etc.) further detract from poems already inattentive to sound and form.

Pub Date: Dec. 1st, 1998
Page count: 86pp
Publisher: Univ. of Pittsburgh