Synopses & Reviews
Things That No Longer Delight Me is a collection of poems about family and memory. This book is filled with objects. The author writes:I like objects for company,to decorate the plainest spaces, decorumandI amass details, jade bracelet, her animal-printdresses, an oval coral cameo.How do objects counter loneliness, she asks, and speak to us of how to behave?In Things That No Longer Delight Me, lyric is driven by a compulsion or need to collect, in order to make sense of the past and stay connected to it.And what if that connection were to be lost? Confronting loss, the book pieces together a family history from stories fragmented and overheard. It asks: What is hearsay and what is history? It seeks to embody story, or historical detail, in lyric form. Resisting nostalgia, its poems respect what is diminished by grief or loss yet reveal details that hold sway over us and give us continuing pleasure.
"'I will always be fascinated,' Chang writes, 'by details from my grandmother's childhood.' The verse and fragmentary prose of this debut describe her family's life in prerevolutionary mainland China and in Hong Kong. Many short poems react to heirlooms, to oral traditions, and photographs; in a concluding sequence set in the present day, the poet shadows her mother and grandmother 'returning/ to China... ravenous, as if poised/ on a threshold,' each street stall 'a Kodachrome/ from childhood.' Chang explores her heritage, and she reimagines lives with devotion and loyalty. One immigrant woman, presumably her grandmother, plays 'countless games of solitaire... since your husband's death.' Chang also draws on international literary sources: the title poem takes its list form from the Japanese memoirist and courtesan Sei Shonagon, and one especially vivid page derives its form from Eugenio Montale. An allegorical sequence entitled 'Serindia' (i.e., roughly, northwestern China) reaches for a spare elegance that reclaims for Asian-Americans the cadence of Ezra Pound's famous Cathay: 'Having left my father's court,/ I live in the nomads' camp. I wear fur and felt.'" Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
About the Author
Leslie C. Chang
's poems have appeared in Agni, The American Poetry Review, The Iowa Review, Literary Imagination, and other publications. She lives in New York City with her husband and daughter.