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The Book of Appassionata


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Would there were more nuns like Sister Mary Appassionata, the poetic persona through whom Citino has been speaking for more than 15 years and whose learned and earthy lectures are here gathered in one hefty volume. A voracious student of anthropology, biology, physics, and history ("The Pharaoh's personal physician was called/ Shepherd of the Royal Anus"), the good Sister knows a little too much about everything, from the "Cholesterol Levels of the Gods" to the "Perfection of Sex." In fact, it's sex‘"the sweet meaty beastliness of us"‘that brings out some of her keenest observations ("If you move together, as you were made to do,/ you must wait for one another"). Existing somewhere at the intersection of meditation, exhortation, and exultation, her lectures never patronize or sidestep the issue, and in the end her intent‘through all the wry humor and associative leaps‘is to help us "know what marvels we are." True, the mask sometimes seems an unnecessary contrivance, and half as many poems would have sufficed, but Citino's eccentric muse nevertheless comes as a blessing in thin disguise‘Fred Muratori, Cornell Univ. Lib., Ithaca, NY

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