The End of Travel


67 pages
ISBN 1-894078-04-7
DDC C811'.54






Reviewed by Sarah Robertson

Sarah Robertson is the editor of the Canadian Book Review Annual.


Julie Bruck’s meticulously crafted and richly textured poems bespeak a
writer intent on making every word count.

The Woman Downstairs, for which she received the A.M. Klein Award in
1994, has been followed by a wide-ranging collection that is notable for
its precise language, crisp imagery,

and seamless marriage of form and content. The latter quality is on
striking display in “Summer / Estaté,” an exquisite tribute to the
singular vocal stylings of jazz diva Shirley Horn: “She hovers so long
in the space / between words, between the piano’s / chords, it seems
she’s lost it, / gone down in a tall field of summer, / given herself
to the

earth as a conduit / to our hearing, to summon a pleasure / so deep
you’re sure the woman will burst.”

The End of Travel is filled with finely wrought evocations of the
author’s native Montreal, a city whose “papers fill with fights over
the language / of signs, instead of what they signify” (“Waking Up
the Neighbourhood”).

Occupying the book’s emotional core is a powerful series of poems
about the illness and death of a friend. In “What They Take,” the
speaker recalls that friend’s burial: “A shovel is what Kate’s
nine-year-old / daughter asked for, and an adult to stay / behind with
her until the ground was smooth. / Later, we ate cold meats, wine, good
bread. / The child using her mother’s hands.”

Bruck locates in other situations a rich vein of humor. In “Drive,”
for example, the speaker invests a stranger in a black Jeep with
qualities that make Martha Stewart look like an underachiever: “At
home, her cocktails pour themselves, / corn triangles fly into the chip
dish, / salso, to the matching bowl for dip. / The self-cleaning dog
clips his leash / to his collar, while the oven warms / to the idea of
the wrapped roast / she’s tossed on the passenger seat. / From the car
phone, she makes funeral / arrangements for the fourth husband, / though
currently, she’s still married / to the third.”

One would be hard-pressed to find a false note in this admirable


Bruck, Julie., “The End of Travel,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed June 21, 2024,