The Absurd Man

Major Jackson. Norton, $26.95 (96p) ISBN 978-1-324-00455-4
In the shimmering fifth collection from Whiting Award–winner Jackson (Roll Deep), Albert Camus’s concept of the “absurd creator,” who creates “for nothing,” inspires a vivid travelogue from Xichang to North Philadelphia to Paris as Jackson’s speaker searches for meaning. Depicting urban scenes, Jackson recalls a “white-gloved/ doorman who opening a glass door gets a whiff/ of a dowager’s thick perfume and recalls baling timothy/ hay as a boy in Albania.” Elsewhere, Jackson’s eye is laser-sharp and wry, observing as “a drug-riddled couple/ shares the smoldering remains of an American Spirit... this city’s updated version of American Gothic.” Throughout the book, Jackson’s weaving of mythology and literary references serve as context for confrontations with personal ghosts, be they “his dead mother reappear[ing] in a storefront glass” or the grandfather who would “look askance at my treasured collection of stemless wineglasses// and fashionable ascots.” Jackson’s speakers affectingly embrace self-interrogations that reckon with “our affair/ far away from my wife and their husbands” or “my children whom I scarred.” In this accomplished work, readers will find that absurdity is only a stop along the road to larger meaning. (Feb.)
Reviewed on : 12/12/2019
Release date: 02/11/2020
Genre: Poetry
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