Pub date: April 16, 2010
Heart-corroding sex with a tin woodman. The encapsulation of a foundering marriage in the state of a cat on the brink of death, whose health cannot be restored, but still manages to purr. Sharon McCartney’s visceral exploration of relationships — how they begin and end, the tenuous threads that hold people together, and the events that can tear them apart is unstintingly, eyes-wide-open aware. Beginnings, endings, transitions — none elude the sometimes sardonic but always sensitive, sinuous, and frank language of McCartney’s finely wrought poems.
Shedding wilful blindness in favour of life-affirming humour, McCartney pushes language from absolute rawness to moments of intimate retrospection, revealing a delicate tension between anger and calm, past and present, denial and acceptance.
“You don't read these poems, you feel them: Hammer in the head, shod foot on the throat, stiletto in the heart. It's those combos of wild, piercing insights (or unusual but poignant images); yep, that's what makes it good for you - or kills you, laughing.” — George Elliott Clarke, author of I & I
“Darkly obsessive, For and Against documents the rolling flux of life - the raw wounds of relationships in moments that are, in turn, anguished, edgy, droll, and affectionate. McCartney's poems are an extreme sport — one well worth playing.” — Jeanette Lynes, author of The New Blue Distance
“McCartney is tough. She doesn’t feel the obligation to rise above a heart-wrenching experience, to find a bright side, or to soften her bitterness.... These are poems for feeling bad and liking it; not for regretting the vile things you’ve said and done, but for regretting that you now, alas, know better than to say or do them.” — Abby Paige, The Rover
“McCartney has shown a delightful felicity in previous books with stapling phrases into the memory. For and Against expands this strength with different material, and it’s a testament to her talent that rawness isn’t diminished by an attention to fluency.” — Brian Palmu
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