The End of Travel

Description

67 pages
$14.00
ISBN 1-894078-04-7
DDC C811'.54

Author

Publisher

Year

1999

Contributor

Reviewed by Sarah Robertson

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

Review

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
collection.

Citation

Bruck, Julie., “The End of Travel,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed June 21, 2024, https://cbra.library.utoronto.ca/items/show/8432.