Madly

(Fiction; Shoemaker & Hoard, 2005)


William Benton is a poet, and in this slim novel he tells the story of a love affair between an American man and a much younger Russian woman, both of them poets living in New York City. The love affair is doomed because the woman is mad. The poet tries to make sense for her, to give her language and stories to create a map of her feelings, to teach her to be steady so that he can keep her. They find their greatest happiness translating the poems of Boris Pasternak together, sharing the attempt to make meaning, but this reflexive narrative never allows the reader to be fooled, as the main character is, into thinking that her mind might be brought to heel.

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