In her fourth collection, Victoria Chang is at her best, performing sharp language-play and breathless turns in poems that ring vivid, humorous, and true. Barbie Chang is an energetic social commentary whose eponymous heroine is a perpetual outsider, failing at the impossible task of fitting in with “the beautiful thin mothers at school” who “form a perfect circle.” We follow Barbie Chang on romantic misadventures with Mr. Darcy and through the humbling heartbreak of caring for ailing parents. Two sonnet sequences interrupt Barbie Chang’s narrative with first-person lyricism and urgency, revealing the great emotional undercurrents that animate these pages: love and desire.
“These are musical, imagistically arresting, and rigorously intelligent poems, but you should read them as much for their superlative treatment of a much-maligned Great Theme as for any of the surface pleasures they unquestionably put on offer. Very highly recommended.” –Huffington Post
“Throughout, her lines are unpunctuated, her words compacted and repeated, the music a mad, tumbling rush.” –Library Journal
“With astringent understatement and wry economy, with nuance and intelligence and an enviable command of syntax and poetic line, Victoria Chang dissects the venerable practices of cultural piety and self-regard. She is a master of the thumbnail narrative. She can wield a dark eroticism. She is determined to tackle subject matter that is not readily subdued to the proportions of lyric. Her talent is conspicuous.” –Linda Gregerson
“Chang’s voice is equal parts searing, vulnerable, and terrified.” –American Poets