Molly Peacock

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5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 08-05-17

Cutting Back: The Poetry of Pruning is a Delight

Where does Cutting Back rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

Top 10%. Cutting Back: My Apprenticeship in the Gardens of Kyoto is a delicious memoir. Both the delicacy of pruning and the necessary fearlessness of the pruner are the contradictions at the heart of the arborist's life--and at he heart of Leslie Buck’s book. It gave me so much to think about! The whole concept of pruning and shaping is very much like a poet's method of revising. The delicate hierarchy of the world of Japanese gardening men was beautifully described. Buck’s friendships with these men were tender and complex. Her frustrations, her youthful stubbornness, the hesitating boldness with which she made the leap to Japan in the first place, all unfolded with zest. Although there is a placidity in arbor work, the book had the quality always of leaving me wondering and wanting more--ever leading me to the next chapter.

Have you listened to any of Caroline McLaughlin’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

I very much liked the way Caroline McLaughlin narrated the book, a casual American voice in formal Japanese apprenticeship.

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5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 07-24-15

Wit, poetry, profundity--and delicious nostalgia

What made the experience of listening to Muse the most enjoyable?

Every poet (or every person with a poet's soul) who has even a hint of nostalgia for a poetry world that is almost gone by should read Jonathan Galassi's MUSE, a roman a clef novel about a young man in the publishing world and a poet of such fantastic renown she'd be Edna St. Vincent Millay (who read to audiences of thousands) AND Elizabeth Bishop, but with a reputation ratcheted up to, say, Meryl Streep. But much more warmly interesting is the young editor and narrator of the novel as he portrays (and, with finesse, betrays) the life inside two publishing houses. Galassi is so witty that his moments of profundity are surprises, delicious ones. I listened to MUSE on and the narrator, Arthur Morey, was pitch perfect.

Who was your favorite character and why?

Paul, the young editor, who learns by ambition.

Which scene was your favorite?

All the scenes at the struggling publishing houses.

If you could rename Muse, what would you call it?

It's THE perfect title.

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