Rachel Mennies, "The Glad Hand of God Points Backwards" (Texas Tech UP, 2014)


To read this collection is to enter into a world of dimly lit rooms with candle light shimmering off errant metallic surfaces. It is mystical, it is brutal, and it unflinchingly stares down a history that some folks block out to merely survive the day. Amnesiac, you become American. Historian, you remain a Jew. Your story begins: the book open like supplicant palms. Strike your words with an exacting hand. Rachel Mennies is that exacting and sure hand, guiding you from room to room through her family's rich and difficult past. Oral history and folklore are necessary parts of our humanity. Stories live inside us and are altered by us, but remain "true." These poems are true in the way that our skin knows the wind is blowing. The Glad Hand of God Points Backwards (Texas Tech University Press, 2014) does more than document realities, it brings itself to live in the speaker's family as an entity, a gentle presence that should remain unstirred but revered. This text will live many lives.

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