"David Berman is a young Virginian poet with a sly, intense regard for the past. He comes on like a prankster, restocking the imperial orations of Wallace Stevens and the byzantine monologues of John Ashbery with the pop-cultural bric-a-brac of a new generation: 'I am not a cub scout seduced by Iron Maiden's mirror worlds.' But his words have and easy, eloquent gait; each line needs to be a line. The landscapes are crisply American, and history, especially Southern history, casts a shadow. A poem about the death of Lincoln ends, 'The assassin was in mid-air/when the stagehands wheeled out the clouds.'"
"Actual Air is actual poetry. Berman is on a mission to make the world strange, to find in the doo-dads of daily life a profound weirdness . . . which makes for a rarity in contemporary poetry." -- Spin, June 1999
"Actual Air is one of the funniest, smartest, and sweetest books of the year, a collection of snapshots colored ecstatically outiside the lines. This is the absurd American sublime, poetry that raises the stakes on the everyday and bluffs the blunders." -- GQ, July 1999
"Berman's debut announces the discovery of a great American poetic storytelling voice by a new generation." -- Publisher's Weekly, June 28, 1999
"In Berman's universe, time slips lazily on by, life thoroughly strange and perpetually interesting . . .Berman is very much alive to life's nuances, even in what many might think of as bland surroundings." -- Time Out New York, May 27, 1999
"When was the last time you picked up a volume of poetry and found yourself hanging on every word, reading it all the way through in a single sitting and then going back to the beginning? This first collection from Berman is that kind of book. Full of casually sharp observations about the most mundane subjects. Air is funny, weird, and profound, whether it's tackling the nature of hallways or the architecture of back pain." -- Entertainment Weekly, July 30, 1999
Berman's is a funny, smart, on-again, off-again poetry of great promise. -- The New York Times Book Review, David Kirby