The House Sitter
Winner-First Prize, Finishing Line Press Open Chapbook Competition.
Leslie Monsour's THE HOUSE SITTER offers a compassionate, clarifying vision of a fallen Golden State. Whether human or animal, its denizens wrestle with survival, hope, and beauty amid the lush decadence of a natural world that is changed but never tamed: transplanted nasturtiums bloom and die in traffic, the swallows of Capistrano abandon their migratory routes, and tarantulas, scooped from a swimming pool, revive and "scatter like anarchic marionettes." Monsour's characters come alive in language we might expect from Elizabeth Bishop had she settled in California instead of Brazil. Whether observing the young soldier at the airport— "part boy, part man, and part machine of battle"—or recollecting her own parents in their evening martini ritual— "Lamplight caressed/their faces as if nothing could go wrong"—Monsour captures time, place, and person with an ease and concision that are, quite simply, unforgettable.
--Ned Balbo, competition judge.
Leslie Monsour's California, a place where humanity and nature chafe and strain against each other in a fraying environment, is brilliantly captured in this chapbook. Descriptions so exact and unsparing might be hard to bear, were they not plentifully graced with compassion and humor. As in her fine first book, THE ALARMING BEAUTY OF THE SKY, Monsour's handling of verse technique is consistently deft. THE HOUSE SITTER is equally notable for its artistic finish and for the unsettling portents many of its poems leave tingling in the mind.
--Robert B. Shaw
Monsour's images in this quietly wise book are perfect, geared to invite the reader into every poem, often through the senses. Every one of these invitations works, the repeated readings are an illuminating experience, and the guide is not only reliable but riveting.
Leslie Monsour's THE HOUSE SITTER wonderfully fuses intelligence and vivid sensory experience. Tonally, the poems here range from the hauntingly evocative to the gently humorous to the tartly epigrammatic. This beautiful collection rewards us in many ways and on many levels.