While we await the critical and fully annotated edition of Celan’s verse, this collection helpfully deepens his mystery.

THREADSUNS

Celan is commonly regarded as the most important poet to write in German since Rilke, but many of his poems remain untranslated and very few are known by English readers. Many lines of Celan sound like uncanny echoes of Heiddegger: “Undebecome, everywhere / gather yourself, / stand.” Even the translator admits of the poems that “their readability is still an issue.” And not only because of the complex philosophy they enact, but because many are autobiographical in nature, referencing specific times, places, and people. Footnotes, which all editors and translators of Celan agree are necessary supplements, are sparse here: they are offered “more as a map of our ignorance than as a showcase for our knowledge.” Once the difficulties of the project are acknowledged, any reader of Celan will be happy to have this competent translation (with facing German text) of an important late collection. The comparative lyricism and directness of Celan’s early verse gave way, in the mid-1960s, to the leaner, more obdurate music of his late style. The poems are full of compound nouns (the jawbreaking “verse-fibula-yoke” is a translation of “Versspangen-Joch”), neologisms, and radical disjunctures of prosody. Joris’s valiant efforts to render Celan into readable and adequately inventive English are not as elegant as Michael Hamburger’s (Celan’s most gifted translator), but they do occasionally manage to strike very close to what Celan suggestively calls “the missing target”: “You, too, with all / the instrangedness in you, / instrange yourself, / deeper, / the One / string / tenses its pain below you, / the missing target / radiates, bow.”

While we await the critical and fully annotated edition of Celan’s verse, this collection helpfully deepens his mystery.

Pub Date: Sept. 25, 2000

ISBN: 1-55713-294-1

Page Count: 280

Publisher: N/A

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2000

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Nothing original, but in Hilderbrand’s hands it’s easy to get lost in the story.

BAREFOOT

Privileged 30-somethings hide from their woes in Nantucket.

Hilderbrand’s saga follows the lives of Melanie, Brenda and Vicki. Vicki, alpha mom and perfect wife, is battling late-stage lung cancer and, in an uncharacteristically flaky moment, opts for chemotherapy at the beach. Vicki shares ownership of a tiny Nantucket cottage with her younger sister Brenda. Brenda, a literature professor, tags along for the summer, partly out of familial duty, partly because she’s fleeing the fallout from her illicit affair with a student. As for Melanie, she gets a last minute invite from Vicki, after Melanie confides that Melanie’s husband is having an affair. Between Melanie and Brenda, Vicki feels her two young boys should have adequate supervision, but a disastrous first day on the island forces the trio to source some outside help. Enter Josh, the adorable and affable local who is hired to tend to the boys. On break from college, Josh learns about the pitfalls of mature love as he falls for the beauties in the snug abode. Josh likes beer, analysis-free relationships and hot older women. In a word, he’s believable. In addition to a healthy dose of testosterone, the novel is balanced by powerful descriptions of Vicki’s bond with her two boys. Emotions run high as she prepares for death.

Nothing original, but in Hilderbrand’s hands it’s easy to get lost in the story.

Pub Date: July 2, 2007

ISBN: 978-0-316-01858-6

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2007

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More about grief and tragedy than romance.

FRIENDS FOREVER

Five friends meet on their first day of kindergarten at the exclusive Atwood School and remain lifelong friends through tragedy and triumph.

When Gabby, Billy, Izzie, Andy and Sean meet in the toy kitchen of the kindergarten classroom on their first day of school, no one can know how strong the group’s friendship will remain. Despite their different personalities and interests, the five grow up together and become even closer as they come into their own talents and life paths. But tragedy will strike and strike again. Family troubles, abusive parents, drugs, alcohol, stress, grief and even random bad luck will put pressure on each of them individually and as a group. Known for her emotional romances, Steel makes a bit of a departure with this effort that follows a group of friends through young adulthood. But even as one tragedy after another befalls the friends, the impact of the events is blunted by a distant narrative style that lacks emotional intensity. 

More about grief and tragedy than romance.

Pub Date: July 24, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-385-34321-3

Page Count: 322

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: Nov. 14, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2012

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