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Culture of One

4.19  ·  Rating details ·  151 ratings  ·  13 reviews
A new collection that captures the austere serenity of the Southwest American desert.

Award-winning, Paris-based poet Alice Notley's adventurous new book is inspired by the life of Marie, a woman who resided in the dump outside Notley's hometown in the Southwestern desert of America. In this poetical fantasy, Marie becomes the ultimate artist/poet, composing a codex-calligr
Paperback, 160 pages
Published March 29th 2011 by Penguin Books
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4.19  · 
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 ·  151 ratings  ·  13 reviews

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Jul 26, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I am in love with Notley's dialogic style, and particularly with this book, which hearkens back to her earliest works set in California.
Jul 22, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: the-west, poetry
A novel in poem fragments, Culture of One is a text in which characters, narrative voices, and places blur into one another as a kind of testament to our shared experience. Yet, in response to this, Notley asserts the importance of finding one’s unique voice. In balancing these two ideas, Culture of One is, in a sense, a sort of manual for how to attempt to live consciously, how to look a bit beyond the societal veil and be more aware and more connected to one’s self and, by extension, one’s env ...more
Jan 11, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Get to know Marie for your own liberation.
Jessica Stephenson
Mar 23, 2017 rated it it was ok
I'm really not sure. I'm not sure if this is pretentious horse shit, or if it's really good and Im just too dense to understand it, so 3 stars until further notice. In her defense, I had no idea what I was getting myself into. I thought this would just be a collection of poetry, rather than the disembodied, fragmented novel poem that it is. I like her language. I like her moxie. I feel like at times it speaks to me without my understanding how, like it's a spiritual witnessing. I REALLY want to ...more
Apr 24, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: poetry
Fish. Red and blue splotches. Life. Music. Trash. Letters. One thousand arms.

The whole book was about as fragmentary as the above sentence.

Notley's Culture of One purports to be a novel in poems, but "novel" is not really the best way to describe this book. There is a set of characters that form the core of the book; there is something that kind of resembles a story arc; the poems do move in a "narrative mode", but are, in general, fundamentally lyric. The story is not clear, and is highly fragm
Feb 18, 2012 rated it it was amazing
"This is a sorry culture, babe. You have to make your own."

"We must redefine Mercy now; it can't belong as concept to leaders and exploiters."

"The dogs open their mouths to word me."
Dec 16, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: poetry
I was fascinated by the story of this book--the idea of Marie living in a dump outside Bisbee Arizona creating her "culture of one" via a codex she works on throughout the text. However, as a literary work, I found "Culture of One" relatively weak. Notley populates this work with a number of characters: Marie's friend Leroy, the "mean girls" and the Satanist girl, rock star Eve Love, the poet herself. However, Notley does not possess the novelist's gift of voice: all of the characters speak in t ...more
Kimberly Ann
Mar 13, 2012 rated it liked it
I love Notley, and I think that there are some great moments in this novel-in-verse that work for the narrative as a whole narrative as well as poems that were amazing as individual poems. In addition, her language is personal and universal at the same time, which I find to be inviting. But I personally was tripped up by the different characters-- I couldn't tell which parts of this book were meant to be Notley as the poet-I, Marie, Mercy, Eve Love... etc. Unless the poet-narrator revealed thems ...more
Dec 07, 2013 rated it it was ok
I got through a quarter of this book without realizing it was meant to be a narrative told through fragments of poems (maybe I should pay more attention to a synopsis before I begin reading). Before I figured it out, I thought the poems seemed very unfinished - unable to stand on their own. Now I know why. However, after I figured it out, I thought I would become more invested in the story. I wasn't. I thought Notley's choice of structure was so interesting, and I wanted to like it more than I d ...more
Michelle Hoogterp
May 25, 2011 rated it it was ok
The poems in here were interwoven with the thread of a story, which was interesting, but without the story, without KNOWING it was a story, I think I would've missed a lot because the poems don't really stand on their own.
Apr 20, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: poetry
I'll just quote Notley: "I believe every fucking word, but it is a story" (74).
Oct 04, 2015 marked it as abandoned
this book is boring
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Goodreads Librari...: Please correct pub date 2 12 Apr 15, 2018 05:35AM  

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Alice Notley (born 8 November 1945) is an American poet.

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“I can’t translate myself into language any more.” 9 likes
“Who defined me? My culture, a culture of mercy, a living codex. I am a unique culture of one, from everywhere. I am her map and her self. I am everyone in the story; I am the story.” 4 likes
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