GOING FAST by Frederick Seidel


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A poet of singular voice and unusual passions, Seidel's sixth volume reverts to a style familiar from his second, Sunrise (1980): gossipy, jet-setty, hipper-than-hip, the words of a man who knows his threads, fast motorcycles, beautiful girls. If that sounds more like Austin Powers than a literate cosmopolite, it's only because Seidel seems so impressed with his virility, his suaveness, his good taste. Of course, that's his persona speaking, though it's named ""Fred Seidel,"" a screenwriter hopping the globe and remembering a better New York, the days of champagne and big steaks, the Pierre Hotel in 1946, a better London, and Noel Coward to provide the wit (""The Great Depression""). Name-dropping globally, Seidel describes his fab friend Jimmy Boole, that dissolute wag (""In Memoriam""), and scorns that cad Claus von B†low, making macabre jokes to his comatose wife (""Dune Road, Southampton""). The title describes the aesthetic that's here-speedy, though hardly ""heady,"" as Seidel avers. His political gestures are just that: chic allusions that seldom transcend a postmodern posturing. Seidel's kinky sex talk seems old hat; his nomadic narcissism recalls James Salter's recent memoir, or Harold Brodkey at his pretentious worst-all annoying because all are capable of brilliance.

Pub Date: April 1st, 1998
Page count: 86pp
Publisher: "Farrar, Straus & Giroux"