Poetry, Reviews

Review: Rector, The Executive Director of the Fallen World

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This month’s Boston Review is running a nice piece on Liam Rector’s The Executive Director of the Fallen World—the last book of poetry Rector would publish before taking his own life in late August of 2007 after battling both colon cancer and heart disease. But as reviewer Robert Schnall notes, though the poet may be gone, his poetry continues to have a profound effect upon its readers with its “hard-won insight and incandescent gallows humor… intermixing pathos with practical wisdom, tragedy with relentless sass.” The review continues:

Often his mordant irony and slang diction prove to be his best defenses against despair, as in “So We’ll Go No More,” which presents a dying speaker’s valediction to his lover: “Cancer, heart attack, bypass—all // In the same year? My chances / Are 20%! And I’m f—g well / Ready, ready to go.” For Rector’s speakers, the past is a looming presence. “Now” presents a tender, comic, and ultimately beautiful overview of life as a lesson in disheartenment from early childhood to death, while “First Marriage,” “Beautiful, Sane Women,” and “Our Last Period Together” all document failed relationships with a humor so delicate that it can barely conceal the vulnerability it seeks to disguise.

Read the rest of the review on the Boston Review website.