f2f: Shorthand for “face-to-face,” as in meeting someone in real life, flesh-to-flesh, as opposed to in the electronic world of cyberspace. Used in chat rooms and while instant messaging on the Internet.
At the core of this challenging new collection from Janet Holmes is the conceit of the sense of sight and the complex role it plays in women’s self-identities and relationships.
Emily Dickinson is introduced as the iconic female writer who, unread in her time, is frequently misinterpreted and unheard. Holmes relates Dickinson’s self-isolation to the writer’s isolation from the reader and the intimacy of the act of reading. Echo, Eurydice, and Eros—other “E” figures, these mythological, their stories relying on seeing and being seen—are related by Holmes to twentieth-century counterparts manifesting as an anorexic, a flamboyant dresser, and a love god, respectively.
Holmes intersperses her meditation with the language of online text-messaging, employing it as a vehicle for probing the dual limitations and liberties afforded on-line correspondents. Through her correspondents’ postings, we chart their relationship evolving without benefit of ever meeting or exchanging photographs, the participants deeply affected by the absence of the sense of sight. By turns provocative and timid, lyrical and terse, the voices in F2F exhibit myriad human reactions to how seeing each other influences how we behave.
“Holmes’s attention to sound (”write with light / durable words indelible") is familiar poetic territory, but here it takes on new meaning because it so exceeds, or opposes, the text-messaging medium from which the language is drawn. This is like William Carlos Williams’s experiments—or Bob Creeley’s—in the excerpting and reframing of casual speech; the perception that a general method could be applied to a new, apparently unpromising and impoverished linguistic realm is one of the book’s most forward brillances." —Charles O. Hartman, Connecticut College
“Drawing heavily from the compact linguistic style of modern text messaging, F2F (shorthand for ‘face to face,’ that is, meeting someone in real life rather than in cyberspace) draws both upon modern experience and upon classic dichotomies of myth as it represents the technological communications of love.” — The Midwest Book Review
Included in University Press Books Selected for Public and Secondary School Libraries for 2007 by the American Library Association