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The Bad Wife Handbook

4.3 of 5 stars 4.30  ·  rating details  ·  80 ratings  ·  12 reviews
Rachel Zucker's third book of poems is a darkly comic collection that looks unsparingly at the difficulties and compromises of married life. Formally innovative and blazingly direct, The Bad Wife Handbook cross-examines marriage, motherhood, monogamy, and writing itself. Rachel Zucker's upending of grammatical and syntactic expectations lends these poems an urgent richness ...more
Hardcover, 114 pages
Published January 1st 2008 by Wesleyan University Press (first published December 28th 2007)
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(showing 1-30 of 193)
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I was excited to get this book in the mail because I really loved one of her other poetry books, Eating in the Underworld. When it arrived (just a random Amazon used purchase) I discovered it was a signed copy. Sweet! But as for my review --- Zucker is playful with language, fills her poems with these beautiful and surprising little metaphors, and the subject matter hits that nice balance of being completely autobiographical yet can-be-applied-to-all. (And by the way, you don't have to be in a s ...more
Saara Myrene Raappana
I've read a few reviews that say the one-off poems that begin and end this book are inferior to its interconnected series of middle-section poems, but I disagree. They're almost all compelling studies of mother/wife-hood, but the middle poems seemed almost self-indulgent and sloppy, while the shorter ones at the front and back were lean and resonant--more so, I thought, for their compression. Maybe it's just a taste thing.
I agree with the reviewer that said she found the first and last parts of this poetry book most compelling--those were five star parts for sure. Plus I always love a wink and a nod towards mathematical and scientific teriminology. The middle part rambled though. Would love to give this 4 1/2 starts though.
I'm not sure where to begin. You see, I felt a connection to the poetry, and yet a disconnection as well. I was moved literally, forced to go in many directions. Wit is required to read this poetry. There were things that went over my head. Which makes me determined to go back and read it again, and I'm sure again after that. If I had to describe this poetry in minimal words... disorienting, scattered, conflicted, pressured, angered, lustful and ambiguous. She shares life as a poet, wife, and mo ...more
missy ward-lambert
I thought the collection as a whole was pretty good, but the middle of it catapulted it to four-stars because, so much, I love her poems about motherhood. Seriously, try a few of these lines on for size. (Taken out of the poems, they are not done justice, but I don't want to risk wrongly-formatting a poem and ruining it forever):

"if there are nests discarded on the sidewalk
I step around them knowing what it costs to weave one"

"a woman with young children is not a woman but a mammal, salve, croon
It seemed like the stand alone poems at the front were all the same poem, which might have been one great poem about adultery and sex and marriage and lust, but instead are several mediocre pseudo-bravely confessional poems about extra-marital desires. And perhaps because I'm not very interested in reflections on motherhood, even though she attempts a distancing from the subject by making the language a bit abstract and strange, I was not compelled by the longer poems either. It all just seems a ...more
The first 12 or so poems didn't really grab me. I think the middle and ending ones are more interesting and dynamic--it seems there's more at stake in them.
Jun 08, 2012 Molly marked it as own-to-read

Rachel Zucker's Balancing the Tide interview.
"I am equally and at once estranged from the person I knew as I / and from the mossy being made so carefully"
Not as fabulous as _The Last Clear Narrative_, but good.

Happy I own it.
A collection of poetry as unusual as the title.
I am the bad husband!
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Rachel Zucker is the author of Museum of Accidents (Wave Books, 2009), which was nominated for a National Book Critics Circle Award. She is also the author of The Bad Wife Handbook (Wesleyan University, 2007), The Last Clear Narrative (Wesleyan University, 2004), Eating in the Underworld (Wesleyan University, 2003), and Annunciation (The Center for Book Arts, 2002), as well as the co-editor (with ...more
More about Rachel Zucker...
Museum of Accidents The Pedestrians The Last Clear Narrative Eating in the Underworld Mothers

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