CORA FRY by Rosellen Brown


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Rosellen Brown's is a fictional imagination; it's no surprise, then, that her second book of poetry consists of poems all uttered by a homely, home-rooted, Addie-Bundrenesque character from the little town of Oxford, New Hampshire. One can almost imagine Cora Fry, like Addle, ordering her coffin and deciding to die--if only she were one degree more desperate. As it is, she's married to a gruff, adulterous mechanic; her children escape her except in moments when she catches them unaware; her parents read her thoughts before she thinks them; the tourists pass her by, and so does her whole, shrinking world. At times, when Cora imagines her daughter calculating a dead baby's dates on a gravestone and discovering, ruefully, that the baby would be dead by then ""no matter what,"" or when she envisions herself and an estranged old schoolmate as ""two small girls who aren't allowed to cross [the street] ourselves,"" Cora's acuity of perception makes for pathos. But too often her matter-of-fact speech is simply dull: ""The flowers won't grow/ in the north window,"" and ""I used to/ play here but/ the field was/ so much bigger."" These are two complete poems, resting self-pityingly on the page. The edge of desperation missing from Cora's character is mirrored in the dearth of linguistic intensity in the poems. Although the book gives shape to Cora's world, not one of the poems will stand alone; so this becomes a kind of transitionless fiction, diminished by the chopping-up.

Pub Date: March 1st, 1977
Publisher: Norton