Synopses & Reviews
The narrative poems in Dorianne Laux's fifth collection charge through the summer of love, where Vietnam casts a long shadow, and into the present day, where she compassionately paints the smoky bars, graffiti, and addiction of urban life. Laux is "continually engaging and, at her best, luminous" (San Diego Union-Tribune).
from "To Kiss Frank,"
make out with him a bit, this
is what my friend would like to do
oh these too many dead summers later,
and as much as I want to stroll with her
into the poet's hazy fancy
all I can see is O'Hara's long gone lips
fallen free of the bone, slumbering
beneath the grainy soil.
"Laux's fifth collection continues in her descriptive, storytelling vein: the at-hand, the matter-of-fact, the day-to-day are rendered in an earnest tone both sensuous and nostalgic. Something of a baby boomer's field guide, this book portrays the legacy of the 1960s from the perspective of one who has survived and must look back on what that decade did and didn't change. And so, the Vietnam War, Bob Dylan, the Beatles, Mick Jagger, Cher, Frank O'Hara, and Superman all make appearances. Laux's treatment of this era isn't without sentimentality, but her true aim is more probing, more elegiac: Superman 'sits on a tall building/ smoking pot, holding white plumes in,/ palliative for the cancerous green glow/ spreading its tentacles'; 'It's 2010 and the doctors have given him another year in Metropolis.' Laux's younger self has grown up, no longer that girl who knew 'it was the summer of love/ and I wore nothing under my cotton vest,/ my Mexican skirt.' Laux brings the book toward its close reconsidering women's bodies specifically their breasts and how they change: 'your mother's are strangers to you now, your sister's/ were always bigger.../ your lover's breasts, deep under the ground,/ you weep beside the little mounds of earth/ lightly shoveled over them.' (Feb.)" Publishers Weekly (Copyright PWyxz LLC)
from "To Kiss Frank, make out with him a bit, this is what my friend would like to d oh these too many dead summers later and as much as I want to stroll with he into the poet's hazy fanc all I can see is O'Hara's long gone lip fallen free of the bone, slumberin beneath the grainy soil"
"Laux writes gritty, tough, lyrical poems that depict the actual nature of life in the West today."--Philip Levine
About the Author
Dorianne Laux is the author of five collections of poetry: Facts About the Moon, What We Carry, Smoke, Awake, and The Book of Men. She has been the recipient of the Oregon Book Award and was short-listed for the Lenore Marshall Poetry Prize. Among her awards are a Pushcart Prize and a Guggenheim Fellowship. She teaches at North Carolina State University and lives in Raleigh.