Yeshiva Boys

David Lehman, Author . Scribner $30 (95p) ISBN 978-1-4391-3617-1

Disarmingly casual, unexpectedly serious, alert to his predecessors and mentors in literature and in life, Best American Poetry series editor Lehman (When a Woman Loves a Man ) has produced a seventh book of uncommon variety. Some poems consider writing itself, as inspiration, as vocation, as business—“That's the thing about ambitious middle-aged writers/ who used to be young: each has a secret problem,/ and if they confess it, they think it will advance/ their careers.” Others seek the informality that Lehman's readers have come to expect. The Jewish content promised by the title arrives in force late in the volume, as the title poem cuts between Lehman's remembered childhood and his adult meditations on heritage and the Holocaust: “I feel as if my real life is somewhere else, I left it/ back in 1938.” (Lehman's mother, who speaks the prose epilogue, describes her life as a child in Vienna and as a refugee.) Lehman, who lives in New York, remains alert to many styles and forms; as a poet he has often followed in the tracks of Kenneth Koch and Frank O'Hara. The title poem, leaving those influences behind, will seem to some readers flat and without style, to others as personal and as profound as anything Lehman has written. (Nov.)

Reviewed on: 08/17/2009
Release date: 11/01/2009
Genre: Fiction
Paperback - 112 pages - 978-1-4391-5444-1
Open Ebook - 112 pages - 978-1-4391-5626-1
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