THE NEW AMERICAN POETS

A BREAD LOAF ANTHOLOGY

These poets should not have to creep; readers should flock to their vibrant, exciting voices.

These “new” poets are indeed new: almost all of the 54 contributors included in these pages are either under 40 or have published a first book within the past five years. Any anthology of this sort is risky by definition; one would be hard-pressed to count 54 really good American poets in the entire 20th century, much less in the last decade. Predictably, therefore, the quality of the poems varies widely, with the worst offenders too willing to hide behind banalities disguised as insights. But the volume’s lovely surprise is that the strong poems far outnumber the weak. In general the writing is suffused with strangeness, originality, and, at times, pure genius. Collier, a poet and professor at the University of Maryland who also directs the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference, has done an admirable job of opening the book to a broad range of styles and sensibilities. The result is an anthology that, rather than privileging something called a “realist” or “experimental” tradition, shows clearly how these young writers, whose short biographies tell tales of diverse influences and demographics, have embarked on the ambitious project of remapping the boundaries of American poetry itself. From the startling linguistic experiments of D.A. Powell and Mary Jo Bang to the sensitive formalism of Greg Williamson to the cool revelations of Pimone Triplett and Maurice Kilwein Guevara, this writing belies the stereotype of American poetry as moribund, instead making a convincing argument that it is as lively and rich as ever. As Olena Kalytiak Davis writes in “Sweet Reader, Flanneled and Tulled,” “Reader unmov’d and Reader unshaken, Reader unsedc’d / and unterrified, through the long-loud and the sweet-still / I creep toward you.”

These poets should not have to creep; readers should flock to their vibrant, exciting voices.

Pub Date: May 1, 2000

ISBN: 0-87451-963-2

Page Count: 304

Publisher: N/A

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2000

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A LITTLE LIFE

The phrase “tour de force” could have been invented for this audacious novel.

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Four men who meet as college roommates move to New York and spend the next three decades gaining renown in their professions—as an architect, painter, actor and lawyer—and struggling with demons in their intertwined personal lives.

Yanagihara (The People in the Trees, 2013) takes the still-bold leap of writing about characters who don’t share her background; in addition to being male, JB is African-American, Malcolm has a black father and white mother, Willem is white, and “Jude’s race was undetermined”—deserted at birth, he was raised in a monastery and had an unspeakably traumatic childhood that’s revealed slowly over the course of the book. Two of them are gay, one straight and one bisexual. There isn’t a single significant female character, and for a long novel, there isn’t much plot. There aren’t even many markers of what’s happening in the outside world; Jude moves to a loft in SoHo as a young man, but we don’t see the neighborhood change from gritty artists’ enclave to glitzy tourist destination. What we get instead is an intensely interior look at the friends’ psyches and relationships, and it’s utterly enthralling. The four men think about work and creativity and success and failure; they cook for each other, compete with each other and jostle for each other’s affection. JB bases his entire artistic career on painting portraits of his friends, while Malcolm takes care of them by designing their apartments and houses. When Jude, as an adult, is adopted by his favorite Harvard law professor, his friends join him for Thanksgiving in Cambridge every year. And when Willem becomes a movie star, they all bask in his glow. Eventually, the tone darkens and the story narrows to focus on Jude as the pain of his past cuts deep into his carefully constructed life.  

The phrase “tour de force” could have been invented for this audacious novel.

Pub Date: March 10, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-385-53925-8

Page Count: 720

Publisher: Doubleday

Review Posted Online: Dec. 21, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2015

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THE CATCHER IN THE RYE

A strict report, worthy of sympathy.

A violent surfacing of adolescence (which has little in common with Tarkington's earlier, broadly comic, Seventeen) has a compulsive impact.

"Nobody big except me" is the dream world of Holden Caulfield and his first person story is down to the basic, drab English of the pre-collegiate. For Holden is now being bounced from fancy prep, and, after a vicious evening with hall- and roommates, heads for New York to try to keep his latest failure from his parents. He tries to have a wild evening (all he does is pay the check), is terrorized by the hotel elevator man and his on-call whore, has a date with a girl he likes—and hates, sees his 10 year old sister, Phoebe. He also visits a sympathetic English teacher after trying on a drunken session, and when he keeps his date with Phoebe, who turns up with her suitcase to join him on his flight, he heads home to a hospital siege. This is tender and true, and impossible, in its picture of the old hells of young boys, the lonesomeness and tentative attempts to be mature and secure, the awful block between youth and being grown-up, the fright and sickness that humans and their behavior cause the challenging, the dramatization of the big bang. It is a sorry little worm's view of the off-beat of adult pressure, of contemporary strictures and conformity, of sentiment….

A strict report, worthy of sympathy.

Pub Date: June 15, 1951

ISBN: 0316769177

Page Count: -

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Nov. 2, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1951

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