But I think most readers will remember the poems in the first section of Goldstein's book, which combine recollections of his childhood in southern California with a nostalgia for the postwar cinematic world. In "Thanks for the Memories," for instance, he describes a moment captured in a family photo: "this photo of Bob and Bing arm in arm / with my mother's sisters, circa 1947, / on some avenue in the Adams district of L.A." Hope and Crosby were just driving by a family picnic, probably, and decided to give the folks a thrill. But Goldstein understands what the movies have done more completely than the stars themselves:
| How could it happen? What did it mean? |
That on a whim the nation's most familiar
voices and faces would mix their charisma
with ordinary folk and make a still
for generations of the Soltot clan to set on shelves,
to share with guests, to freeze a perfect moment
in the full sunshine of postwar California.
The movies intersect the real and then become our reality, or at least our memory of it.
Laurence Goldstein reads from A Room in California at the U-M Residential College Auditorium on Thursday, October 6.
[Review published October 2005]