Sleeping It Off in Rapid City: Poems New and Selected

August Kleinzahler, Author . Farrar, Straus & Giroux $25 (234p) ISBN 978-0-374-26583-0

The witty, gritty poet and memoirist Kleinzahler (The Strange Hours Travellers Keep ) has produced chiseled, sometimes curt and finely observed free verse for decades. Kleinzahler has lived in Montreal, San Francisco, Vancouver, Portugal and Berlin; his sketches of characters and places from at least four continents include affectionately cynical portraits of hoodlums, odes to the autumn failures of baseball teams and swiftly cinematic depictions of Tartar hordes in medieval Europe, “ripping the ears off hussars.” Hackensack, N.J.; the foggy Bay Area with its foggier ex-hippies; and northern European lakes and mountains all receive their due in a poetry that aspires to the feel of bebop and the delight of travel writing, that never bores and rarely repeats itself. New poems add to, rather than swerve away from, Kleinzahler's strengths in close observation and all-over-the-map diction, from slang to technical terms. Overheard speech in “Above Gower Street,” a poem about the loneliness of international travel, ranges from an answering machine's anodyne messages to an explicit sexual come-on; in “Vancouver,” “the neon mermaid over the fish place/ looks best that way, in the rain.” This ninth book of poems and first trade press new-and-selected should bring this master of free verse lines even more admirers. (Apr.)

Reviewed on: 02/25/2008
Release date: 04/01/2008
Genre: Fiction
Paperback - 234 pages - 978-0-571-26011-9
Paperback - 234 pages - 978-0-374-53173-7
Open Ebook - 256 pages - 978-1-4668-8076-4
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