Four stars, read in January 2018.
For most of the book I was going to give it five stars, but it seems to divide itself into two sections (before her suicide attempt and after), and I felt much more strongly about the first section. I loved it, I related closely to upsetting amounts of it, I can still feel the mood of reading it a month ago, especially the first parts when she’s in New York.
The silence depressed me. It wasn’t the silence of silence. It was my own silence.
Now that the time has come to write about it, though, I am beginning to suspect that I can’t. I don’t know what to say about it, honestly; it was all feelings and an atmosphere, nothing that cooperates with words. I’m very glad the copy I read was my own ratty little 1981 Bantam paperback, so I can read it again and again.
I imagined Buddy saying, “Do you know what a poem is, Esther?”
“No, what?” I would say.
“A piece of dust.”
Then just as he was smiling and starting to look proud, I would say, “So are the cadavers you cut up. So are the people you think you’re curing. They’re dust as dust as dust. I reckon a good poem lasts a whole lot longer than a hundred of those people put together.”
And of course Buddy wouldn’t have any answer to that, because what I said was true. People were made of nothing so much as dust, and I couldn’t see that doctoring all that dust was a bit better than writing poems people would remember and repeat to themselves when they were unhappy or sick and couldn’t sleep.