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that all people would eventually find their home and their perfection in union with God, but that all animals would too; he almost stridently asserts this belief in many of his sermons, theological essays, and even some of his novels. A more typically quasi-Calvinist British Victorian Christian, living under the shadow of eternal damnation—if not his own, quite possibly that of people he cared about, and most certainly that of the majority of the human race—might well find childlike carelessness both irresponsible and inappropriate to one’s existential situation. But MacDonald’s deep conviction that ‘‘All shall be well’’—eventually, for everyone —surely underlay his ability to recommend the grave levity of a child at play as the disposition most suited to the realities of human life. Minor criticism aside, this text is a valuable and unique contribution to MacDonald scholarship and is worth being read by anyone seriously interested in the import of MacDonald’s fairytales. Bonnie Gaarden Edinboro University of Pennsylvania Portions of this review were first published in Mythlore 33.2 (2014): 165–68. Benjamin Myers. Lapse Americana. New York: New York Quarterly Books, 2013. Pp. xvi + 120. $14.95. ISBN 978-1-935520-71-9 After the success of his first book, Elegy for Trains, which won the 2011 Oklahoma Book Award for Poetry, Benjamin Myers released his layered and richly evocative second book, Lapse Americana. Comprised of 71 poems, and divided into four sections, the book carries readers to places where the past (personal, cultural, historical) mingles with the present. Or one might better say that in Myers’s poetry, the past haunts the present. Just as the past impacts the present world of the poems, many poems interact with the subject of death, whether taking it as the core subject, or making a passing reference to it. As the title also implies, the idea of ‘‘loss’’ (in its various manifestations) winds its way through Myers’s poems. Lapse Americana establishes one of its other core subjects via the epigraphs of the ‘‘Prelude,’’ the epigraphs deriving from, respectively, the Edda and the book of Ecclesiastes. The former quotation points to ‘‘two ravens perched on Odin’s shoulder [. . .]. They are called Thought and Memory’’ (xiii). The latter, however, finds Solomon claiming that ‘‘There is no remembrance of former things; neither shall there be any remembrance of things that are to come with those that shall come after’’ (xiii). Following these companion statements, the poem ‘‘Spook House,’’ the sole poem in the ‘‘Prelude’’ section, recounts the speaker’s memory of visiting a county-fair ride called Dante’s Inferno. Myers develops the narrative of that memory and its larger significance in the book, and concludes with the speaker preparing for what is to come: ‘‘two black doors swung open/as we watched our 224 Christianity & Literature 64(2) friends/before us disappear around a dark curve’’ (xvi). As readers move along the ride of the book, traveling from section to section, they encounter poems rich in intertextuality, with references to classical poets, to Shakespeare, even to Pascal in the ten-section epistolary poem, ‘‘Notes from a Time Traveler,’’ in which Pascal is the ostensible author. The more localized subject matter ranges from divorce, to farm work, to historical events, to domestic and familial scenes, to rural decline, to war, to incidents from the speaker’s past, and even to the land itself. Even as Myers explores these subjects, the poems resonate with the larger ideas of remembrance, loss, the past, and death. While the collection possesses a thematic heaviness and darkness, Myers occasionally adds levity, such as in the poem ‘‘Class Outside,’’ which explores the frequent request of college students to have a session outdoors. The speaker declares in the opening lines that ‘‘It will never be as good as students think/it will be’’ (102), while later, the speaker observes that ‘‘half the class is gone/when a girl in white shorts walks by’’ (102). Surely, readers can identify with some version of this experience. The levity that Myers brings often involves the more personal. For instance, the speaker of ‘‘My Teeth’’ compares his teeth to ‘‘a small congregation /of drunks’’ (99...

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Additional Information

ISSN
2056-5666
Print ISSN
0148-3331
Pages
pp. 224-227
Launched on MUSE
2020-02-04
Open Access
No
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