The Daily Mirror

David Lehman, Author Scribner Book Company $18 (160p) ISBN 978-0-684-86493-8
Lehman's poetic journal is a cabinet of wonders, displaying vitrine after vitrine of miraculously preserved New York School-style implacable, wacky joy. The author of The Last Avant-Garde, a critical study of the New York School zeitgeist, Lehman has clearly taken his previous subjects to heart: the incessant jazz, diners and movie stars; the abstract expressionists, yellow taxicabs and eternal Ebbets Fields reveries might make readers think this book's pub date a typo for, say, 1960. The poems are in fact eerily perfect replicas of the O'Hara and Koch originals-the poetic equivalent of Gus Van Sant's shot by shot re-creation of Hitchcock's Psycho. In Lehman's world, it is Ella Fiztgerald who has died, rather than Billie Holiday, but Larry Rivers is here intact, along with Khrushchev, Joe Dimaggio, Grace Kelly and Arthur Miller. When the technique is applied to a more contemporary cast of characters, an odd shifting of perspective occurs, almost like hearing Edward R. Murrow narrating the Gulf war, or William Shirer writing about Monica Lewinsky: ""Today I decided/ Bill Clinton is/ the Tina Brown/ of politics/ the magazine is/ in the red but/ it's the talk of/ the town the biggest/ collage of celebrities/and meritocrats this/ side of the Inferno/ (trans. Robert Pinsky)."" More often, though, the poems are placidly indistinguishable from their mid-century models. (Taken as a diary, their anachronistic tone and scope becomes even stranger.) Far too scientific to be nostalgic, these replicants are all wrong as homage to the restlessly innovative originals. (Jan.)
Reviewed on: 01/03/2000
Release date: 01/01/2000
Genre: Fiction
Open Ebook - 160 pages - 978-1-4391-0626-6
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