Curves and Angles

Brad Leithauser, Author . Knopf $24 (69p) ISBN 978-0-307-26528-9

Poised between reserve and sympathy, between limpid pathos and stoic resolve, Leithauser's first book of short poems since The Odd Last Thing She Did (1998) contains some of his strongest lyric work. Leithauser won praise in the 1980s for his attractive revivals of difficult forms. He has since found broader notice with novels in verse and in prose, and as a critic whose interests include musical theater and Scandinavian literature. Here, two well-sculpted poems describe New Year's Day in Iceland ("miles of ice give way in time/ to rock and snow"), and several more pay homage to the playwright and Broadway lyricist Lorenz Hart. In a six-stanza poem about scuba divers, the first thing we see is "a can of Cheez Whiz" whose "cheese—or cheez—extrudes into the sea/ as a sturdy gold thread." By far the best work, however, occurs in the sequence most indebted to Leithauser's novelistic talents: "A Science Fiction Writer of the Fifties" combines narrative gifts, baby boom nostalgia, ecological worries and a fine sense of stanza and line. Leithauser may not be his generation's most ambitious poet, but at his best he can make old forms sing anew. (Nov.)

Reviewed on: 09/18/2006
Release date: 11/01/2006
Genre: Fiction
Paperback - 69 pages - 978-0-375-71142-8
Open Ebook - 64 pages - 978-0-307-49469-6
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