Synopses & Reviews
My Index of Slightly Horrifying Knowledge is a fierce and original collection—its generosity of voice and emotional range announce the arrival of a major new poet.
At the age of twelve, Paul Guest suffered a bicycle accident that left him paralyzed for life. But out of sudden disaster evolved a fierce poetic sensibility—one that blossomed into a refuge for all the grief, fury, and wonder at life forever altered. Although its legacy lies in tragedy, the voice of these brilliant poems cuts a broad swath of emotions: whether he is lamenting the potentiality of physical experience or imagining the electric temptations of sexuality, Guest offers us a worldview that is unshakable in its humanity.
"Paralyzed in a bicycle accident at age 12, Guest as an adult has turned his serious anger, his irrepressible energies and his sex drive into an instantly recognizable and passionate style. This third collection (his first from a New York trade house) comes with a blog and the promise of a memoir, which should raise the profile of these poems. On the one hand, the zigzag free verse portrays the poet's frustrations, 'twenty-one years/ into the telling of a poor joke,/ made of pain, nerves snuffed like wicks': 'No music but smashed guitars/ would be enough.' On the other, the poems race, churn and tumble over themselves with a welcome, often R-rated, power of invention. Guest (Notes for My Body Double) might be Percy Bysshe Shelley crossed with Nick Flynn, or Neruda fused with Dean Young, at once perpetually dissatisfied and breathless with anticipation. A poem called 'Audio Commentary Track 1' brings in 'stuporous public sex/ at skating rinks and professional wrestling matches,' along with 'lethally ascetic Canadian monks,' then explains, 'To me each convulsive sob sounds like joy.' Guest's fast-paced, sometimes even offensive third volume could be a poetry hit." Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
“A beautiful, breathless torrent of language that is dark or insightful or funny or any combination thereof, but always on the mark, always riveting. . . . My Index of Slightly Horrifying Knowledge is a terrific book. ” Mark Strand
“Guest takes the reader on a path like few contemporary poets offer.” Chicago Sun-Times
“Astonishing.” Jorie Graham
This fierce and original collection heralds the arrival of a powerful new voice in poetry. A beautiful, breathless torrent of language . . . a terrific book--Mark Strand.
“A Paul Guest poem likes to pull out fast in the first line, then zigzag from one eye-opening image to another: A high-speed, innervating trip all the way.”
—Dallas Morning News
Whiting Award-winning and acclaimed poet Paul Guests My Index of Slightly Horrifying Knowledge is an audaciously brilliant collection—a compendium of honesty, strange beauty, and pain—poems Louis Gluck calls, “urgent and moving,” and Robert Haas calls, “vibrant with news of the world seen from an angle of experience not available to most of us.” Mary Karr says, “Guest is a spirit to be reckoned with. Heres a body of new work to cheer about.” Guest's first book, The Resurrection of the Body and the Ruin of the World won the 2002 New Issues Prize in Poetry, and his second book, Notes for My Body Double, won the 2006 Prairie Schooner Book Prize. His memoir, One More Theory About Happiness will be available in May 2010.
About the Author
Paul Guest is the author of three poetry collections, The Resurrection of the Body and the Ruin of the World, which won the 2002 New Issues Prize in Poetry; Notes for My Body Double, which won the 2006 Prairie Schooner Book Prize; and My Index of Slightly Horrifying Knowledge. The recipient of a 2007 Whiting Award, he lives in Atlanta, Georgia.