This is a collection in two halves. The first half is material which engages the reader vibrantly in a Jewish household which is both quintessentially American and surviving robustly in Oxford in Britain. The memories of family are put on the page in ways which spoke to me. They were of such everyday, little aspects of family life yet they spoke eloquently of the whole of the world of which they were part. The button bottle sang out to me (my mother had one; I have one). The rhythms of speech in the poems sang too. One felt one had been introduced to these people, welcomed into their home, stayed and enjoyed supper with them
In the second part of the collection the poet is in Mongolia. Quite why she is there isn’t clear. I heard her read from the collection and she did mention it had been an opportunity she had grasped (as would I), but I didn’t quite get, even then, what the opportunity was.
The descriptions are still delightful and the poems do provide pictures for the mind’s eye – but what does it all connect to? I am, coincidentally, very interested in Mongolia. But I still couldn’t find a resonance. Perhaps it is because the first half of the collection is so firmly rooted in the poet’s past and ongoing family life, this second part seems to float. I felt the need of some preamble to tell me how to consume them.