DEER TABLE LEGS by Katayoon Zandvakili


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An Iranian-born Californian who writes for Publishers Weekly, Zandvakili debuts with a volume that stands out for its singular style: a hodgepodge of broken English phrases, child rhymes, and dizzying punctuation. Zandvakili’s truncated diction and cryptic asides disguise her brightly colored, girlish musings on romance. The rough and disorienting larger narrative mostly charts the bumps and bliss of modern love: “The Lying Mango,” beginning with its virginal lover, records her dreamy walks on the beach, complete with a household pet, and hopes for a marriage proposal. Similarly, “Body Light Houses,” despite its difficulties, is mainly about the pangs of young relations: she longs for a ring in a window; she waits for his call after a date; she implores herself to forget her troubles with poetry. With its unclear arc, the oddly shaped verse and the dense bits of prose, this disjointed volume captures the mystery of “teenagerhood” for one with a “foreignness of tongue.” The textures become so tangled in “Ponce de Leon” that the poet begins in media res, and that hardly matters—dream sequences further confuse the “he’s and ’she’s. Zandvakili’s odd juxtapositions lead to a series of poems on “These Fish Beauties,” which include evocative images from her childhood but end with silly talk of “paring down” lovers” lives “to a walk on the beach,” and speak of a boy and girl “tired of playing/games.” The jarring surfaces here yield no greater depth of thought or emotion.

Pub Date: Jan. 17th, 1999
ISBN: 0-8203-2072-2
Page count: 82pp
Publisher: Univ. of Georgia
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15th, 1999