The Book of Men

Dorianne Laux, Norton, $24.95 (92p) ISBN 978-0-393-07955-5
Laux's fifth collection continues in her descriptive, storytelling vein: the at-hand, the matter-of-fact, the day-to-day are rendered in an earnest tone both sensuous and nostalgic. Something of a baby boomer's field guide, this book portrays the legacy of the 1960s from the perspective of one who has survived and must look back on what that decade did and didn't change. And so, the Vietnam War, Bob Dylan, the Beatles, Mick Jagger, Cher, Frank O'Hara, and Superman all make appearances. Laux's treatment of this era isn't without sentimentality, but her true aim is more probing, more elegiac: Superman "sits on a tall building/ smoking pot, holding white plumes in,/ palliative for the cancerous green glow/ spreading its tentacles"; "It's 2010 and the doctors have given him another year in Metropolis." Laux's younger self has grown up, no longer that girl who knew "it was the summer of love/ and I wore nothing under my cotton vest,/ my Mexican skirt." Laux brings the book toward its close reconsidering women's bodies—specifically their breasts—and how they change: "your mother's are strangers to you now, your sister's/ were always bigger.../ your lover's breasts, deep under the ground,/ you weep beside the little mounds of earth/ lightly shoveled over them." (Feb.)
Reviewed on: 12/20/2010
Release date: 02/01/2011
Genre: Fiction
Paperback - 91 pages - 978-0-393-34265-9
Open Ebook - 978-0-393-08091-9
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