CHOICES by Lauren Alexander


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Refinements and distillations on the theme of awareness.

It’s salubrious to witness Alexander as she moves toward a haiku-brief compression in this song of praise to awareness. She aims to expose "the underbelly of ordinary circumstances” and “retrieves discoveries we discard and uncovers an ever-present option: intended choices." Yet what these epigrammatic offerings do best of all is simply make the reader pause and think. For Alexander, intentionality is serious business: "If you fall off a horse, hesitate / or risk remounting the wrong one," or "A split-second decision breeds second thoughts." An endeavor such as this can easily become cryptic, and Alexander only occasionally falls into that trap—"on a still day, a tree looks like a motionless mime" or "[w]hen we react, we don't know what we're doing," neither of which give the reader anything but gristle to chew upon. Mostly, though, Alexander avoids the Hallmark and the runic. She can be provocative or rueful ("We don't always see and know / the persons we say and think we love”) or mordant ("We get to know some people after they die"). There are times when her brevities come across like cool thoughts—illusive, toying—but, again, with the capacity to arrest: "Your pen will run out of ink / no matter how hard / you press on the paper." Other times she pricks pretension: "We learned to pretend in childhood. / We're still pretending...but back then...we knew we were." But the lines that leave by far the most lasting impression upon the reader's imagination are like the fortune cookies of yore, the ones that get at something without fanfare: "A tree unearths its sense of humor when the sidewalk cracks." You can't make an omelet, or a life, without breaking a few eggs.

An often-sparkling show of what in life can be gathered and given an aphoristic squeeze by keeping your eyes and mind open.

Pub Date: Nov. 14th, 2011
ISBN: 978-1463598105
Page count: 224pp
Publisher: CreateSpace
Program: Kirkus Indie
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1st, 2012


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