When Poets Write Fiction

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Brian Beglin reviews Margo Berdeshevesky’s Beautiful Soon Enough and debates the nature of fiction:

Does making such a stark distinction between poetry and prose really matter? For my money, it does. Fiction comes with expectations, just as poetry and hip-hop and meatball subs do. Some authors thwart those expectations to great effect: look at Padgett Powell’s newest, for instance. The paradox is that books like that thrive largely because they feel as though they must be fiction, as though the function demands the form. I’m not sure Beautiful Soon Enough works the same way. Consider a beat from “For Flame and Irresistible”: “She’s stirring coffee with a feather.” As an image in a poem, this is lovely. In a story, it upends the scene. Part of me couldn’t shake the feeling, while reading, that I hadn’t ingested a collection of stories so much as I’d been denied a phenomenal collection of poetry.

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