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Review Excerpt: The Survival Rate of Butterflies In The Wild by Murray Reiss - The Vancouver Sun

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Monday, December 9, 2013

Filed under: Reviews

By: Tom Sandborn

Reiss has found a way in this remarkable new book of verse to meet the challenge of finding words for the unspeakable. The Survival Rate of Butterflies in the Wild is a tough book to read, full of the paradoxical horrors of feeling too much and feeling nothing at all, rich with tightly disciplined lines that come as close as language can to addressing what may be humankind’s most appalling demonstration of just how far we can go into the darkness, and does it all without rhetoric or sentiment.

At the same time the author grapples with a drama played out on the scale of continents and decades, he renders in exquisite and minute detail the impact of that world historical tragedy on one family, and on one painful father-son relationship. This is a book that shapes and masters painful material into well-crafted lines and stanzas. The poems give the impression, often, of an effortless, unmediated stream of consciousness, but no reader will long imagine that this was easy to write, or that the effects are achieved without endless revision and polish.

The poems are presented mainly from the point of view of a child of Holocaust survivors growing up in Sarnia, the only child in a household haunted by poverty, lack and silence ...


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