Merrily We Roll Along
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Published in: July-August 2006 issue.


FUNNY, MOVING, FURIOUS, and dazzling, Eleanor Lerman’s Our Post-Soviet History Unfolds (Sarabande, 2005) sounds the note of the times, the era of American Imperialism, the days of our Bush-filled lives. Lerman is able to capture brilliantly the wacky and weary sense of stymied idealism of a generation that grew up hoping for better things for America. What is all the more remarkable, given the failures of the last 25 years to find peace with the end of the Cold War, is that Lerman is still able to strike a note of cautious optimism that she will find the moment “When the weight of experience / grows lighter with each step” and that the love she’s been waiting for will be there “behind the open door.”

Achieving this tone of tentative tranquility has not been easy for Lerman, not just because of the way post-Soviet history has unfolded, but also because of how Lerman started out. Her first book, Armed Love, published when she was in her very early twenties, created a sensation 35 years ago. In 1973, even after Sylvia Plath and Anne Sexton had taught us “where madness touches love,”

nice Jewish girls who wrote poetry weren’t supposed to tell
the reader to
Get out the pistol honey
and warn me about eating silver
bullets because one
blue blue morning
suicide and money won’t be enough.

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