I admit it–I sometimes impulse buy books because the cover. The book I’m reviewing today was one such impulse purchase.
Dorianne Laux’s The Book of Men is a meditation on lost innocence and redemption, an interrogation of young love and the Vietnam war from the perspective of a wanderer, a voyeuristic no-longer-a-child but not-yet-woman. The setting for many of these poems is suburban, industrial (the world of men). The systems and infrastructures of the American middle-class become interfaces for exchange between a young woman’s cast of early influences and a volatile moment in the collective American psyche. Laux reveals, as one critic put it, “the glimmer underneath the urban grunge.”
What I love most about Laux’s poems, is that they are full of questions, innocent and not so innocent– but unfailingly honest. Too, her use of metaphor is sharp and precise, never used as a scrim or a diversion.
An excerpt from the poem, “Antilamentation”–
“You’ve traveled this far on the back of every mistake, ridden in dark eyed and morose but calm as a house after the TV set has been pitched out the window.”
This collection, her fifth, was the winner of the 2012 Paterson poetry prize. Laux has been a finalist in the National Book Critics Circle and her previous book, Facts About the Moon, recieved the Oregon Book Award. She teaches in the MFA program at North Carolina State University.
If you’re looking for your next volume of poetry, I would encourage you to pick this one up!