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Book Reviews231 closest he comes to flashy is in "The Good, the Not So Good," which he wisely breaks into aphorisms. Here's one: "We may continue to behave badly after absorbing a good poem, but it might be slightly harder to forgive ourselves." I find Dunn's aesthetic very moral, mindful of appropriateness and the rules a poem sets up for itself, and testing what can be said in a given context against what you can't get away with saying. His other caUing card is precision: "It is a desirable, subversive act to replace what passes for truth with a more accurate/deep approximation, whether the subject is a dinner party or poverty. Precision, therefore, is more radical than passion." Walking Light takes its title from an image in WiUiam Meredith's love poem "Crossing Over," where a couple is on a river ofmelting ice, and must learn somehow to "walk Ught." Dunn's favorite poets are ice travelers: "each word they add, each new claim they make, results in the necessity of new accommodations." The further into the poem their daring takes them, the more crucial it is to be aware ofcontext, and to make the right move—usuaUy the only right move. There is a great range of subjects in the book: sports, gambUng, the schoolyard, fathers, shyness, lies, the writer as teacher. Dunn, who is as intuitive as Dobyns is calculating, doesn't give you the last word on these subjects, so much as your word, the best one you had, the one you hadn't articulated yet. Dan Minock Kathryn Harrison's The Kiss and Sue WiUiam Sflverman's Because I Remember Terror, Father, I RememberYou (just re-issued in paperback) are both incest memoirs written by daughters who come to have a Ufe beyond the fathers who once dominated them. The fathers dominate the books too, though both daughters resist the temptation to make them simply monstrous. Both narratives manage to teU of extreme experiences without flinching or posturing. Yet how different they are! Very different situations, different conceptions of the self, different styles. The Kiss, by Kathryn Harrison. Bard/Avon, 1997. 207 pages, paper, $11.00 Ms. Harrison's memoir wfll disappoint readers who come to it with afternoon-TV expectations. Although The Kiss chronicles an affair between father and daughter which starts when she is twenty, the story is told almost completely from the inside. Harrison attempts to find objective correlatives 232Fourth Genre for her relationship with her father in beautifuUy spare descriptions ofother fragments from the time—how she is at one point afflicted by a narcolepsy which makes her faU asleep when she is talking to her father on the phone; how she risks swimming in the ocean at night. The text also undertakes the project of revealing motives: why Ms. Harrison chose to wear a purple miniskirt when going to her mother's psychiatrist; why her father insisted on performing oral sex on his daughter when they are staying at his mother's house. The prose is reserved, and oddly cold, for aU its references to weeping , until Ms. Harrison's mother begins to die. Then the focus shifts and the tone changes, too. In the end it is the relationship between mother and daughter that arches over the father-daughter liaison. Because I Remember Terror, Father, I RememberYou, by Sue WiUiam SUverman. University of Georgia Press, 1999 paperback printing. 272 pages, paper, $14.95. Sflverman's considerable narrative powers enhance this account of a father's sexual abuse of his young daughter. The pacing is masterly. The author knows how to make characters, even the most minor, Uve memorably . For example, there are the bitten fingernafls ofthe boy who picks her up at a dance when she is a young adolescent; years later, she identifies those fingernafls in a clerk in a clothing store. SUverman also has a brave, piercing inteUigence which transcends psychological explanations and does not require symboUsm to convey a sense of what she went through. Her attitude toward her father is restrained yet firm: she quiedy and insistendy condemns what he did to her. One of the most affecting passages comes after her...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1544-1733
Print ISSN
1522-3868
Pages
pp. 231-232
Launched on MUSE
2010-10-13
Open Access
No
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