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This review is taken from PN Review 170, Volume 32 Number 6, July - August 2006.

CHURCH GOING MARK RUDMAN, Sundays on the Phone (Wesleyan University Press) $22.95
STANLEY MOSS, Songs of Imperfection (Anvil Press Poetry) £ 7.95
GEOFFREY BROCK , Weighing Light (Ivan R. Dee) $18.95

The title of Mark Rudman's bitter rumination on family, Sundays on the Phone, refers to weekly phone calls from his mother, a ritual he nicely summarises as 'You had uncanny timing and called always at the wrong time./The wrong time being the moment after' the weekly habit of sex with his spouse. When the right time would have been is hard to say since Rudman's catalogue of his mother's complaints is so relentless that one quickly comes to sympathise with the woman who is the subject of her son's posthumous venom. I suppose Rudman thinks he is being commendably honest, as if his undifferentiated feelings were of any interest to anyone else. Technically, Rudman's book is a pastiche of reconstructed conversations and recollections (he dealt with his father in 1994's Rider) that accumulate to inflict a whining in the reader's head like a band-saw going through sheet metal. Gracelessly conceived, Sundays on the Phone is gracelessly written as clumps of broken prose; to wit, after an avoided visit

                                 you unsheathed your spite and penned
a vicious missive about 'two skuzzballs, human slime,'
your son and grandson, who had again maligned

the mother. The not-quite rhyme of 'slime' and 'maligned' is about as good as Rudman's howl gets.

Early on, Rudman suggests that he's going after bigger game, indicating that the 'Sundays' in his title refers to Wallace Stevens's 'Sunday Morning.' He dislikes Stevens's seamless modernism, the detachment of 'a ...

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