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Page 29 July–August 2009 his quiescence, asking himself what has happened to his life while he was busy watching Dwaine’s. Unfortunately, this recognition comes very late in the novel, long after we’ve stopped wondering when this awakening would ever occur. Nevertheless, despite the rather tired retracing of a thoughtful character’s long, slow journey to understanding that his hero is really nothing more than a royal pain in the ass, Life Goes to the Movies does cause us to take a moment to consider why it is that we, both as individuals and as a culture, so frequently choose to surrender our own potential and pursuits in order to live vicariously through the narratives of other people’s lives, be they real or imaginary. Kevin Grauke is assistant professor of English at La Salle University in Philadelphia. Grauke continued from previous page the Attic (1953), to name just a few. If these references call to mind distinct images, then these asides will be a pleasure, though even if you count yourself amongst this knowing set, you still may grow weary of the pattern. Like Sal Paradise, Nigel is drawn to someone who possesses what he himself lacks: passion and excitement. And, like Sal, he too eventually drifts away from the object of his obsession and affection (and, yes, homoeroticism does enliven this friendship as well, though more openly than it does in Kerouac), having grown disillusioned with the fevered visions and the increasingly more erratic behavior. What distinguishes Dwaine from Dean Moriarty, however, is the uncertainty of his past. Sal never has any reason to doubt what he hears of Dean’s hard-scrabble past; Nigel, however, gradually grows doubtful of the veracity of the larger-than-life tales that he’s been told and that he’s read about in Dwaine’s letters and shared journals (so suggestive, in their breathless prose, of the real-life Dean Moriarty’s writing): did Dwaine actually fight in Vietnam? Did he really almost become a priest? Did he truly join the Peace Corps and then inadvertently become involved in an IRA bombing that killed seven people? And it’s this confusion, finally, that frees Life Goes to the Movies from the shadow of On the Road, at least partially. Nigel’s doubts regarding the life history that Dwaine provides evolves into a meditation upon the curious relationship between the movies and life, agency and passivity. Nigel, who resembles a moviegoer throughout much of the novel—observing and occasionally commenting, but rarely doing much of anything—eventually confronts Provisions of Love Walter Hess Ink for an Odd Cartography Michele Battiste Black Lawrence Press http://www.blacklawrence.com 76 pages; paper, $14.00 In a brief acknowledgment at the end of Michele Battiste’s Ink for an Odd Cartography, she writes of her debt to Theodore Roethke, “whose wisdom guided me through this book, though I didn’t know it till the end.” Reading this lovely, indeed often joyous book, it is not too difficult to imagine which subdivision of Roethke’s wisdom served as that guide. I would quickly point to Roethke’s amorous lady who could both bill and coo, who loved both to give and receive caresses, and to that sententious man who, “did not fly the flesh. Who does, when young…” and still more, to that woman “lovely in her bones.” That is to say, her book is mostly, but not only, about love; it is also about lust, about those Gen X experiences that Sex in the City may have neglected. That is to say, it is about how, if not the whole, at least some of twenty-first century life may be lived. Battiste knows the latitudes and longitudes of love in the twenty-first century. The book is wise, and, surprisingly, for a book of poetry in the year 2009, reading it provides for a great deal of fun. It provides for feelings of freshness , for the quality of something newly created. Her language is open and available, skipping cross water like her shales, dipping, dropping long and often in crafty joyous splashes. One is delighted by the almost metaphysical tone to her work...

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Additional Information

ISSN
2153-4578
Print ISSN
0149-9408
Pages
p. 29
Launched on MUSE
2014-10-01
Open Access
No
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