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emewstL H ?. 'Ml In a Time of Violence by Eavan Boland W.W. Norton, 1994, 70 pp., $17.95 When Outside History: Selected Poems 1980-1990 was first published in this country, Eavan Boland vaulted into prominence in the American poetry scene. In this collection , her seventh, but only the second to be published in the US, Boland's poems about Ireland and America continue to explore the stories of women. She writes of her ancestors' histories and lives, as well as of her own life, and the frailty of old age. Boland's great gift is her ability to interweave myth with material from our day-to-day existence. In her poems, the women of Greek and Irish legends—from Persephone and Demeter to Anna Liffey, namesake of Dublin's dividing river—come together to consecrate our average world. Dixie City Jam by James Lee Burke Hyperion, 1994, 367 pp., $22.95 Burke's latest novel features his trademark detective, Dave Robicheaux, in a story of drugs, organized crime and neo-Nazism. DiArie City Jam begins when Robicheaux finds a sunken Nazi submarine in the Gulf of Mexico. The discovery places him smack in the middle of a battle between a Jewish businessman and a collection of underworld figures for possession of the sub. The plot is further complicated when Robicheaux, an exNew Orleans police officer, and his former partner, Clete Purcell, join forces to investigate a series of drugrelated murders in New Orleans. In the midst of Robicheaux's negotiations to retrieve the submarine, his wife is victimized by Will Buchalter, a sociopathic neo-Nazi. The search for Buchalter leads Robicheaux and Purcell into a maze of white supremacist propaganda and hatred. When Burke lets Robicheaux get down to detective work, as in the suspenseful search for Buchalter, his ability to create drama and tension is impressive. Still, it is the quality of his prose style that sets Burke apart from other detective genre writers. The New Orleans setting is wonderfully realized, and his characters come vividly alive. A Stranger in This World by Kevin Canty Doubleday, 1994, 180 pp., $20 The stories in Kevin Canty's debut collection are like intrusions into other people's lives, with all their unsolvable problems. The opening line of "Safety" reveals Canty's penchant for crisis: "Marian is in the 204 · The Missouri Review bedroom, Saturday afternoon, talking to her sister on the telephone, when her two-year-old son Will walks in with a plastic bag over his head." Like Marian, all Canty's characters tightrope-walk their way through tragedy. "King of the Elephants" opens with Raymond receiving a phone call from the cops: his alcoholic mother is in the hospital again. On the way to pick her up he considers abandoning his drunken father on the highway and trying to escape. The fifteenyear -old, hormone-driven narrator in "Pretty Judy" is also trapped, but in a dilemma of his own making. Paul can't give up his afternoon rendezvous with a nineteen-yearold mentally handicapped neighbor even though he knows his "black heart" is betraying both of them. While the restless outsiders in these stories rummage for quick fixes, believing that if they'd had more going for them they wouldn't be in trouble in the first place, they realize they are nothing more than strangers to themselves, living in a wide, loveless world. Canty's spare writing brings into focus his vision of a bleak world where "all kindness is slightly sinister." Start From Where You Are: A Guide to Compassionate Living by Pema Chodron Shambhala Publications, 1994, 154 pp., $12 (paper) In this simple and direct guide, Pema Chodron, an American nun in the Tibetan Buddhist tradition, translates esoteric Tibetan teachings into clear straight talk that is helpful to Buddhists and nonBuddhists alike. Starting with the premise that "there is no need for self-improvement," she gently but firmly rebuts the idea that we must get thin, get psychologically hygenic, get the perfect man or woman for our partner, get rich, and get happy. The notion underlying all that kind of thinking is that we are never enough just as we are right now. But...


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pp. 204-215
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