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intimate poems that speak privately to a lover: "Ui late summer I made my way m love toward you"; "As you sighed, I was drinking/A glass of ice water"; "The lines beneath your eyes,/Everywhere in the fold of my elbows." It is significant that these intensely personal poems are placed squarely in the center, or heart, of the book. The narrator must work his way from the communal to the primal, secret place that harbors intense desire. Infused with love's intensity, the narrator's senses are more acute. Through his eyes, the world appears altered, particularly the natural world we see foUowing the love poems, as the narrator welcomes a refreshingly unfamiliar vista: "The sudden angle of beginning ." From this new perspective, he notices that oranges and grapefruits are huddled birds in trees, and the common leaf of a shamel ash is uncommonly lovely. With vision honed by passion, the narrator observes what is often missed: hungry bears who "thin themselves into the brush, black and invisible," gray dogs who are "two thin blurs/ On a high desert canvas," the elusive coyote, "grizzly beast-hound of a dream," jackrabbits "running so fast as to make the fire/Shoot like rocket engines and smoke behind them." Heightened sensitivity accompanies the narrator back into the arms of family and community. These later communal poems, however, are decidedly different from those in eariier sections, having shUted from the collective oom-pah-pah of civic bands and celebratory parties to meditations that mingle compassion , friendship, filial love, heaven, memory, loss and inevitably death. Bolstered by vital, sensual love, the narrator touches what is often emotionally painful. At the same time, he consecrates quiet yet essential moments that are too often overshadowed by aU that is boisterous and loud. In the book's final poem, he says, "The hardest work of the last quarter of the twentieth century is to find/An edge in the middle." Rios's poems do the hard work of finding and nurturing that edge. As the book ends, we too are changed, understanding in fuU measure what the prologue poem, "A Physics of Sudden Light," prepares us to experience: "A broad and wide leap of Ught/Encountered suddenly, for a moment—/You are not where you were/But you have not moved." (LW) Regarding the Pain of Others by Susan Sontag Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 2003, 131 pp., $20 In 1977 Sontag published On Photography, a National Book Critics ' CUcIe Award-winning coUection of six critical essays in which she contemplated how the enormous volume of images generated by photographic technology had changed the way in which people understood and experienced experience. Though the essays were fundamentaUy more meditative and discursive than prescriptive , Sontag argued very generaUy for an "ecology of images" to combat the "leaching out of content" that she beUeved was the result of widely disseminated photographic and video pictures. Curiously, though she alluded to many well-known 182 · The Missouri Review photographs, thebook itselfcontained none. Now Sontag has written a reconnaissance of some adjoining territory that she didn't explore in the former work. Regarding the Pain of Others is a book-length essay that specUically addresses war photographs. Like On Photography, it contemplates rather than dictates; also Uke the earlier book, it includes no reproductions of photographs—a fact for which one is often grateful since all of the photographs Sontag discusses are images of death or horror or both. I read it at my desk, in front of my computer, and now and then, when Sontag's comments about a particular photograph intrigued me, I did a quick Google search and viewed the image for myself. But most of the time there wasn't any need to. Sontag's project here is not critiques of individual photographs but a thoughtful dissection of the meaning , uses and morality of war photography . It is always a joy to spend time with Sontag, whose critical intelligence is determinedly but never deridingly at odds with the cUché, the schematic, the conclusive. She begins this book by recalling Virginia WooU's antiwar essay, "Three Guineas" (1938), In which Woolf, writing to an unnamed (and possibly hypothetical) London attorney...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1548-9930
Print ISSN
0191-1961
Pages
pp. 182-184
Launched on MUSE
2011-10-05
Open Access
No
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