Letters from Hanusse

Robert Fitterman, Author Sun and Moon Press $12.95 (0p) ISBN 978-1-55713-391-5
Matching the classic Objectivism of George Oppen and Louis Zukofsky with a hip, contemporary sensibility that borders on techno-ambience, Fitterman's debut is very much a long poem of New York, and its pure, accessible verbal pleasures mirror that city's varying scales, depths and dictions. Fitterman's peripatetic structures let him drop odd, potentially dull stock phrases (""we got/ a situation here"") and put them in contact with more elevated, poetic ones: ""the dead lose/ their defenses"" and then to follow with the zinger: ""that's been my experience."" Section 7 is a sort of fake dictionary utilizing various formal devices quotes from literature, dates, abbreviations, etymologies to create a difficult but familiar surface in which the humor of not quite knowing what a word means combines with a quasi-expose of the mystical nature of words. Section 8 is a ""libretto"" in which several landmark buildings the World Trade Center, the Flatiron building, Rockefeller center form an orderly but disjunctive choral crown: ""FLATIRON: Open up/ your heart/ and see it/ the other way./ What makes/ a hat felt?"" Other sections, each of which adopts a different formal pose, are equally deft and inventive. Fitterman's sensual relationship to words, his light touch and his wry humor beautifully render a notoriously over-exposed subject, and give us the means for reimagining its structures. (Apr.) Forecast: This book was selected for Sun & Moon by Bruce Andrews and delayed for five years. That the work remains fresh testifies to its durability. As experimental as it is, anyone with an interest in New York or urban life in general would enjoy this book, and if booksellers pick up on this, it could do quite well.
Reviewed on: 03/01/1999
Release date: 03/01/1999
Genre: Fiction
Paperback - 137 pages - 978-1-55713-395-3
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