cover image Watermark


Joseph Brodsky. Farrar Straus Giroux, $15 (135pp) ISBN 978-0-374-14812-6

As much a brooding self-portrait as a lyric description of Venice, poet Brodsky's quirky, impressionistic essay describes his 17-year romance with a city of dreamlike beauty that banishes nightmares. Praising Venice and its architecture as a triumph of the visual, the Nobel laureate uses his visits there as a touchstone to meditate on life's unpredictability, the appetite for beauty, death, myth and modern art ``whose poverty alone makes it prophetic.'' Waxing confessional, he declares, ``I am not a moral man. . . . I am but a nervous man . . . but I am observant'' and offers autobiographical asides about his youthful lust for an Italian communist scholar and a 1977 meeting in Venice with Susan Sontag. In his wayward forays amid canals, streets and cathedrals barnacled with saints, the eternal Venice shimmers through the fog, battered yet resplendent. (June)