Glare

A. R. Ammons, Author
A. R. Ammons, Author W. W. Norton & Company $25 (304p) ISBN 978-0-393-04096-8
Paperback - 294 pages - 978-0-393-31779-4
Open Ebook - 304 pages - 978-0-393-24472-4
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Ammons has given his book an entirely too appropriate title. Full of reflection, the collection throbs with the type of light a reader might tolerate only when expecting to be led down an important road. Instead we are led astray by a book split into two long poems that are subdivided into 117 not very cohesive pieces, nearly all of which are transcribed into plain vanilla couplets. With more than 45 years of writing experience and two National Book Awards under his belt, Ammons (Brink Road, etc.) has now firmly embraced the Grumpy Old Man school of poetry. The opening pages suggest that great things are in store: ""grecian urns not forever fair when/ the sun expands... the simian ancestries,/ the lapses and leaps, the discovery// of life in the burial of grains."" But what we are subsequently offered is a glorification of the quotidian, bathroom ruminations on snot and other bodily secretions mixed with some curmudgeonly observations on the quest for truth: ""we should always believe the opposite of what/ is believed because what is believed hides// by contradicting what we don't want to believe."" Some of this work is witty, and some of it slaps a reader with a bracing metaphysical humor. But most of it reads like the work of a man who, seeming to claim an entitlement to say anything and everything, exhales words at the end of a long day. (July)
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