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By Anne Tyler


Evie Decker is a shy, a bit plump teen, lonely and silent. yet her quiet lifestyles is shattered whilst she hears the voice of Drumstrings Casey at the radio and turns into immediately interested in him. She manages to fulfill him, bursting out of her lonely shell--and into the attentive gaze of the intangible guy who turns into all too real....

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See Mariani, Dream Song: The Life of John Berryman, Amherst: University of Massachusetts Press, 1996, 287 and 297. He also worked on one poem, “from The Black Book (iii)”, in 1958. See below. The Black Book: Berryman’s Holocaust Requiem 13 distressing subject-matter, conceding: “I just found I couldn’t take it. ”11 Yet his failure to complete the volume clearly had procedural as well as psychological origins; or rather poetic procedure and psychology seem to have become increasingly interfused as the project developed.

If the poem follows an abiding trajectory of descent, a katabatic plunge into the depths of history, into mass murder and the death camps, then the final three lines clearly describe a reciprocal movement of ascent, hauling the subject-matter heavenward in a manner that seems integrally bound to the production of the elegy itself. As the poem goes on, its imagery lightens, with the weighty “long-lockt cattle-cars”, wrenched together with firm, brace-like hyphens, giving way to ethereal “seafoam” and “sky” in the final two lines.

In this 16 Berryman, “THE BLACK BOOK” (TS with MS corrections), Unpublished Miscellaneous Poetry, box 1, fol. 25, “BB”, JBP. 16 Matthew Boswell way the victim is figured in an essentially negative relation to both narrator and reader: he is both “him” and, as in the original title of the poem, “not him”; someone whose terrible injuries and suffering are such that they place him beyond any of our familiar fields of conceptual or emotional reference. The grandfather lacks a human language: all he can do is “howl” like a wolf, and his ululating has a disconcerting effect on the narrator, who describes how it “shook / Our teeth before the end”.

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