Humorous, quirky, and spiritually meditative by turns, Cathryn Hankla’s prose poems move by associative leaps and take their inspirations from cultural and personal icons. A shadow narrative moors the collection in the perspective of a woman who survives a difficult childhood to eventually comprehend the paradoxes of adult life and whose journeys into her heritage bring her to a fuller realization of her place in the world. Travels to Prague and Paris, allusions to literary, spiritual, artistic, and political figures, local and familial lore—all become ready touchstones for the revelation of feeling and reevaluations of identity and the nature of freedom.
While recognizing the danger in exploration, Hankla takes pleasure in questioning the status quo and takes issue with those who sidestep emotional or intellectual adversities by affecting apathy. In the title poem, the huge cache of the Louvre is searched, not for the famed Mona Lisa or Egyptian antiquities, but in a metaphorical quest for something now forever lost—a nation’s collective naoveti, destroyed with Kennedy’s assassination, from the gunman’s nest in what was then the Texas School Book Depository.
Intimate and unusual, amusing and moving, Texas School Book Depository is a truly wondrous offering.
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