cover image Common Life

Common Life

Stéphane Bouquet, trans. from the French by Lindsay Turner. Nightboat, $16.95 trade paper (160p) ISBN 978-1-64362-153-1

The opening poem of Bouquet’s spirited eighth collection (after The Next Loves) readily asserts its wryness: “a friend has generously emailed to let me know/ he thinks my poems are mostly/ narcissistic tactics of seduction. Isn’t it worth writing, then,/ the stormy morning/ in Vienna, the acacias aimed directly over us, or/ the club/ with the Bulgarian prostitutes, the night before, when/ we danced/ pressed up against humanity’s minor bodies?” The book’s second section, “Monsters// Play for eleven actors/ or more, or fewer,” is followed by “Lucky,” a longer prose vignette, and “His Wife (A Painting)” which opens with a husband who visits a gallery, “The same evening, he had explained to his wife why he hadn’t been a painter. He talked about the color orange and the notion of boredom. His wife had had the impression she’d already heard it all, elsewhere, in another life.” Turner’s excellent translation allows these unfailingly imaginative, intriguing, and various pages to scintillate. Readers willing for frequently dramatic shifts in form will enjoy the ride. (Jan.)