Eileen Myles has an incredible gift for nailing down a moment, or for that matter, a sweep of years. Each image is carefully chosen and tacked into place, and what rises is the edifice of a life. The metaphor is probably too static. Myles's prose is exhilarating even at its bleakest, it's full of breathless speed. There's plenty that is bleak here--a sad alcoholic father who dies before his daugher's eyes; an awful, floundering gang-rape; poverty, drugs, booze, ambition thwarted and bitterly fulfilled. It's the great American sadness, and it would be unbearable if Myles didn't write with such wit, elegance, and an utter lack of self-pity. The writer that comes to mind is Henry Miller, but a Henry Miller who didn't hate women.