By Sharon Olds
(Knopf, Paperback, 9780679740025, 96pp.)
Publication Date: April 21, 1992
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The Father is a sequence of poems, a daughter's vision of a father's illness and death. It chronicles these events in a connected narrative, from the onset of the illness to reflections in the years after the death. The book is, most of all, a series of acts of understanding. The poems are impelled by a passion to know and a freedom to follow wherever the truth may seem to lead. The book goes into areas of feeling and experience rarely entered in poetry. The ebullient language, the startling, far-reaching images, the sense of extraordinary connectedness seize us immediately. Sharon Olds transforms a harsh reality with truthfulness, with beauty, with humor--and without bitterness. The deep pain in The Father arises from a death, and from understanding a life. But there is joy as well. In the end, we discover we have been reading not a grim accounting but an inspiriting tragedy, transcending the personal. The radiance and daring that have always distinguished Sharon Olds' work find here their most powerful expression.