Dan Gerber

Teoksen A Primer on Parallel Lives tekijä

18+ teosta 117 jäsentä 1 Review

Tietoja tekijästä

Dan Gerber's eighth collection of poetry, Sailing through Cassiopeia, richly layers and evokes the elegance of the commonplace with meditations on how to love a world that, while beautiful, is also monstrous. Although his work is informed by a range of masters-from those of the Chinese canon to näytä lisää Rainer Maria Rilke and Wallace Stevens-Gerber's voice is entirely his own. Profoundly sensitive to history, philosophy, and poetics, he honors an immediate yet ever-changing world and its endangered landscapes. näytä vähemmän

Tekijän teokset

A Primer on Parallel Lives (2007) 17 kappaletta
Sailing through Cassiopeia (2012) 15 kappaletta
Grass Fires (1987) 14 kappaletta
Voice from the River (1990) 12 kappaletta
5 blind men (1969) 7 kappaletta
The End of Michelangelo (2022) 4 kappaletta
Out of Control (1974) 3 kappaletta
The revenant (1971) 2 kappaletta
The Chinese Poems (1978) 2 kappaletta

Associated Works

180 More: Extraordinary Poems for Every Day (2005) — Avustaja — 365 kappaletta
The Best American Poetry 1999 (1999) — Avustaja — 208 kappaletta
Speed: Stories of Survival from Behind the Wheel (2002) — Avustaja — 6 kappaletta

Merkitty avainsanalla


Palkinnot ja kunnianosoitukset
Michigan Author Award (1992)



I have been aware of Dan Gerber's work for forty years or more, mainly because of his early collaboration with Jim Harrison in publishing the Sumac literary magazine and also some books under the Sumac Press imprint. This was back in the late sixties and early seventies, before Harrison broke big with his LEGENDS OF THE FALL and went on to become a prominent figure in American letters for both his fiction and his poetry. Gerber's work, on the other hand, has gone largely unnoticed by American readers. This is partly, I suppose, because his output has been sparse and uneven in quality. I remember reading, back in the seventies, an early Gerber novel, OUT OF CONTROL, about auto racing, which was not particularly good, and I hadn't read any of his work since. There hasn't really been much, most of it thin volumes of poetry.

But now here's this novel, A VOICE FROM THE RIVER - new to me, but it's actually been around since 1990, first published by Clark City Press, out of Livingston, Montana. It was reprinted in 2005 by Michigan State University Press, the alma mater of both Gerber and Harrison, as well as Tom McGuane, the third member of what was once considered a triumvirate of promising young literary lions out of East Lansing. McGuane, like Harrison, has gone on to considerable success as an author.

Gerber, however, has continued to languish in the ranks of middle tier writers. Poetry has always been a hard sell in America, and Gerber has published only four books of fiction in a stop-and-start writing career that now spans nearly fifty years. During most of that time he also served on the board of directors of the Gerber foods empire, which probably ate up a lot of his time and may also have been a kind of soul-sucking experience for a man who has aspirations to a writer's life.

Here's the thing though. When he wrote A VOICE FROM THE RIVER he was obviously drawing heavily on his own experiences as the unwilling scion of a successful business. At the same time, there is enough invention involved to make this a beautifully wrought work of fiction. Protagonist Russell Wheeler is a WWII veteran who returned to his small Michigan town to head up a paper business inherited from his father. Russell's son Nick is a disaffected veteran of Vietnam, uninterested in the family business who wants to run an art gallery. Russell is haunted by three years spent living with a tribe of stone-age cannibals who rescued him and nursed him back to health after his plane was shot down over the mountainous jungles of New Guinea. Nick has his own demons after serving a tour as a transportation and graves registration officer responsible for the disposition of dead and wounded. He finally simply walks out of his job with the family business, leaving his wife and daughter behind, and moves to New York, where he begins a new life with another woman and plans to open an antique store. Russell, whose wife had left him years before, becomes romantically entangled with his son's abandoned wife, Lesley. When this part of the book emerged, I was immediately reminded of one of Updike's RABBIT books, I think it was the last one, RABBIT AT REST, in which Harry has a brief affair with his son Nelson's wife. But there's a difference. While Updike's Rabbit was always something of a rascal, running on animal instinct, Gerber's Russell is a romantic, who finds himself deeply in love with Lesley, wrong as he feels it might be. There is an empathetic elegance in evidence here, a tenderness, which wasn't there in the Updike story. What perhaps makes the two stories seem more alike, however, is the fact that both men are very conscious of the effects of aging and the inescapable fact of death.

In a passage which gives the book its name, Russell remembers his aborigine rescuer and friend, Kopa Ki, proudly calling out into the river gorge and hearing his echo, saying: "It is the voice of my spirit from the river ... It tells me that I am still with the living ... That I have not yet been taken by my ancestors."

Both Russell and Nick feel that same sense of time passing, of urgency to do something important with whatever remains of their lives. And in their own ways, they both break away from the ties of family and business. And therein lies a beautiful tale of love, loss and redemption. Gerber definitely got his stuff together for this, his most "recent" novel. Some of the elements he has lived, and some are artfully invented, but this is simply one hell of a riveting story. The ending seems right, perhaps even perfect. A VOICE FROM THE RIVER, is a beautiful book. Very highly recommended.
… (lisätietoja)
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TimBazzett | May 30, 2013 |


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