Upgrade to the Flash 9 viewer for enhanced content, including the ability to browse & search through your favorite titles.
Click here to learn more!
Winner of the Pulitzer Prize
Winner of the T. S. Eliot Prize
In this wise and intimate new book, Sharon Olds tells the story of a divorce, embracing strands of love, sex, sorrow, memory, and new freedom.
As she carries us through the seasons when her marriage was ending, Olds opens her heart to the reader, sharing the feeling of invisibility that comes when we are no longer standing in love’s sight; the surprising physical bond that still exists between a couple during parting; the loss of everything from her husband’s smile to the set of his hip; the radical change in her sense of place in the world. Olds is naked before us, curious and brave and even generous toward the man who was her mate for thirty years and who now loves another woman. As she writes in the remarkable “Stag’s Leap,” “When anyone escapes, my heart / leaps up. Even when it’s I who am escaped from, / I am half on the side of the leaver.” Olds’s propulsive poetic line and the magic of her imagery are as lively as ever, and there is a new range to the music—sometimes headlong, sometimes contemplative and deep. Her unsparing approach to both pain and love makes this one of the finest, most powerful books of poetry she has yet given us.
“Like the book as a whole, like Olds’ entire work, the poems are generous, honest, brave, witty, and beautiful, a paean to the delights of heterosexual love.” —Jeffrey Eugenides
“Olds evokes haunted interiors, brooding seascapes, and an oddly emblematic label on a bottle of wine and raids science’s linguistic storehouses. The more exacting and surprising her language and imagery, the more audaciously she parses her feelings, which swing from carefully reasoned empathy for her ex-husband to seething shame. These are threshed, rinsed, and polished poems of suffering and dignity, recognition and resignation, and freedom. And it is this artistic victory over pain that makes Olds’ work so potent.” —Donna Seaman, Booklist starred review
“The book of her career.” —Huffington Post
“Olds’s language is as lovely as always. What makes this a refreshingly worthwhile (and often engrossing) collection is how the self, diminished by loss, survives the journey into her lines.” —Michael Andor-Brodeur, The Boston Globe
“This out-of-the-ordinary collection, about the end of a marriage, goes beyond the confessional. Sharon Olds, who has always had a gift for describing intimacy, has, in a sense, had these poems thrown at her by life and allowed them to take root: they are stunning—the best of a formidable career.” —Kate Kellaway, The Guardian