cover image Luxury: Poems

Luxury: Poems

Philip Schultz. Norton, $26.95 (96p) ISBN 978-0-393-63468-6

Schultz, the Pulitzer Prize–winning author of Failure, adopts a philosophical approach to aging, suicide, and the passing of time in his eighth collection. He remarks on the present as something “I seem to have less to do with lately,/ standing as I do off somewhere nearby,/ confused as to what just occurred, and why.” Schultz also notes that “the future remains translucent/ and unambiguous/ in its desire to elude me.” The work is largely concerned with the past, refracting through a singular lens the many forms suicide can take: “I was going to college in six months/ when Dad had a stroke/ and his doctor said: ‘If he doesn’t stop working/ he’ll be dead soon.’ ” Luxury assumes the guise of a 1955 Pontiac station wagon, which may have been one reason Dad “got up earlier each morning,/ worked harder,/ longer each day.” Luxury is also the fact of aging into one’s 70s, “of living perpetually/ on the edge/ of grace/ and death.” References to such thinkers as Aristotle, Augustine, and Nietszche prepare readers for a close engagement with Camus. In the four-part title poem, the speaker and several others seek “the same unsolvable answer/ Camus sought/to the absurd paradox/of suicide.” Throughout this emotional search, Schultz gives complex questions the thorough, honest, and lyrical treatment they deserve. (Jan.)