In her work, Ms. Rich has never let her readers believe in a distinction between the personal and the political, the personal and the artistic, the personal and the poetic. An angry, beautiful struggle shines in her poetry, one which her death does not end.
This novel brought back a nostalgic draft of the feeling I associate with discovering literature, when reading was a process of constant blossoming, feeling like my mind was being tended by the deceptively gentle hand of a master of immense talent and wisdom. It’s not a feeling I have very often as an adult reader, and it’s a gift.
The composer, whose darkness and turbulence, even violence, seemed like a refuge for the teenage soul in its unsteadiness, was always Shostakovich. I suppose the pervasive sense of oppression in his music spoke to a teenager’s natural sense of oppression and scrutiny. Of course, Shostakovich’s sense of oppression came from the constant scrutiny and pressure of a totalitarian regime—a teenager’s comes from the sense that the whole world is a totalitarian regime.