Winner of the 2001 National Book Critics Circle Award for Poetry
Synopses & Reviews
Albert Goldbarth "just may be the American poet of his generation for the ages", says Judith Kitchen in a recent feature on him in the Georgia Review. "Often humorous but always serious, Goldbarth combines erudite research, pop-culture fanaticism, and personal anecdote in ways that make his writings among the most stylistically recognizable in the literary world". This new volume, Saving Lives, both consolidates and extends his passions and their presentations.
The poems range from a few tight, resonant lines to works of long storytelling drive, from sequences that encompass the most flexible of free verse to an homage to the sestina. Some center on familiar cultural icons (Rembrandt, Houdini, Barnum, the Hardy Boys), others on little-known fringe players in subculture's oddest unlit corners, and yet others on family histories. But always they examine an essential subject: the ways in which we try to "save lives" -- whether through a transplanted lung, the archeological remnant, the conserved book.
As ever, Goldbarth dazzles, displaying an energetic mind eager to share his arcane learning, oddball musings, and observations of intimate moments, joys, and despairs. A zany wit and a generous sense of humanity reign equally. Saving Lives only enhances this writer's grand signature tradition.
"Generously intelligent, Goldbarth's own 'zestily done humbuggeries' remind us that reading is no less an act of discovery and creative preservation than writing." Library Journal
"Goldbarth so deftly, imaginatively, and affectionately portrays [his characters] figures wreathed in sexy, scientific, and philosophical musings and in metaphors and insights as piercing as they are beautiful." Donna Seaman, Booklist
"Goldbarth moves easily from big, serious, personal topics...to quirky phrases and delightful facts....Goldbarth's poems do not offer the concentration, the once-and-for-all rightness, of most lyric: mostly they are lineated essays, meant, tender, personal and fun." Publishers Weekly