(Critical Survey of Contemporary Fiction)

In this dramatic tour de force of voices, Gluck tempers humans’ narcissistic but inescapable attachments to their own natures with a passionate, white heat. The organization of the book is a woven design in patterns of three. There are three sets of poems interwoven with each other throughout the book. The relevance of each set of poems is not confined to those who have been or are married. In fact, the unexpected “stars” in the Odyssey poems are the “third wheels”: Telemachus, the empassioned, confused son, trying to find out who he is among the pyrotechnics of his parents obsessions and fantasies, and Circe, the “other woman,” who both creates the problem by detaining Ullysses and then solves it by aiding him in his return to Ithaca. The poem, “Circe’s Power,” begins with Circe’s laconic but sincere remark: “I never turned anyone into a pig./ Some people are pigs; I make them/ look like pigs.” As part of Gluck’s latest re-creation of poetic voice, such direct, plainspoken diction reaches deep into the heartbeat of human pain, or the fleeting sigh of human bliss.

Perhaps no other woman poet writing today is less inclined to volunteer a correlation between her life and the subject of her own work than Gluck. Yet, the woman as writer (and by corollary wife/lover/mother/possessor of cold feet) is clearly identified in the you/I couple of MEADOWLANDS (“The Wish,” p. 58), which suggests an innovative level of familiarity between the writer of the poems and the woman’s voice that has spoken from them throughout the years. This development, however, is not a sign of “easing up” in terms of aesthetic discipline. Absolutely nothing in MEADOWLANDS is superfluous, even the rare but authentic moments of humor. Few individuals could muster the relentless striving for perfection of expression that continues to inform the stately, absolute economy of Gluck’s voice and style.

Sources for Further Study

Bloomsbury Review. XVI, May, 1996, p. 17.

Boston Globe. April 28, 1996, p. 67.

Library Journal. CXXI, March 15, 1996, p. 74.

The Nation. CCLXII, April 29, 1996, p. 28.

The New York Times Book Review. CI, August 5, 1996, p. 6.

The New Yorker. LXXII, May 13, 1996, p. 93.

Publishers Weekly. CCXLIII, March 18, 1996, p. 66.

The Village Voice Literary Supplement. June 4, 1996, p. 28.

The Washington Post Book World. XXVI, July 28, 1996, p. 3.

Women’s Review of Books. XIV, November, 1996, p. 24.