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Charles Simic: Selected Early Poems Hardcover – November 1, 1999

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Editorial Reviews

From Kirkus Reviews

If its permitted to speak of such a thing as a national character under our current tyranny of globalism, then theres a definite Eastern European, even Slavic, flavor to the entries in this collection. Born in Belgrade on the eve of WWII, Simic was heir to the twilit sensibilities of Mitteleuropa, which rendered everyday objects and situations with surrealist strokes, mystical implications, and, not least, sinister overtones. Its not imprecise to refer to this demeanor as Kafkaesquein effect, if not in intent: Nearly all of Simics verses contain one or more of these disturbing elements. But unlike the Prague novelist and a postwar generation of social-realist poets, Simics journey did not dead-end in adolescent self-absorption and life-denying seriousness. Simic made it to the US, arriving, ironically, as a teenager, quick to pick up on the American penchant for finding and expressing the humor in precisely those preposterous, though dangerous, situations. Who is Charlie Chaplin, after all, if not K. with a sense of humor? An example among these early poems is Autumn Air, in which a man instructs his family how to assuage hunger by swallowing a good deal of air: During his demonstration, the man floats up and drifts off to sea, where hes threatened by new perils. The language here is spare, even simple, but the images are complex, challenging in the way surrealist art defies ordinary perceptions, juxtaposing the whimsical and the frightening. -- Copyright ©1999, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.

Review

His skill and sure instinct make this book one of the important poetic achievements of our time. -- The New York Times Book Review, Adam Kirsch --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 255 pages
  • Publisher: George Braziller (November 1, 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0807614564
  • ISBN-13: 978-0807614563
  • Product Dimensions: 8.3 x 5.4 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,719,315 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Alan DeNiro on January 9, 2000
Format: Hardcover
Anyone who is interested in the breadth, playfulness and imagistic intensity of contemporary American poetry needs to buy this book. Simic's early poems--surreal and yet rooted many times in the commonalities of life--are sparse yet full of surprises. These poems, when I was an undergrad, changed the way I THOUGHT about poetry, what it could accomplish. Nearly devoid of literary pretentions, Simic's poetry is nonetheless artful, using slang, riddles and the like to construct his worlds-within-poems. Simic later wrote a book called Dimestore Alchemy on the work of Joseph Cornell and I couldn't think of a better description than 'dimestore alchemy' for his own poetry. Few books are essentials, but this is one of them, a certified desert-island book for poets and lovers of poetry.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Keith Levenberg on May 2, 2000
Format: Hardcover
This book is all right if you're just discovering Simic, but if you're adding it to a collection it's not an essential buy. Despite the dust jacket's promise it doesn't deliver in the way of new or revised material, and the choice of poems mirrors too much the older (and cheaper) compilation, Selected Poems. Most of Simic's books are available and very affordable in paperback, and once you get to know him, you'll want them all. The "greatest hits" package here is optional.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Sam R. Calvert on February 6, 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book is a great introduction to the poetry of Charles Simic. The poems represent his imagistic, surrealist style and his concise use of language. Poems suck as "Watch Repair" & "Fork" create thought provoking representations for the reader. If you are a fan of Simic's collections Jackstraws and The World Doesn't End, this collection is definitely for you.
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By Really a Reader on October 19, 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Simic is always fine. A poet of atmosphere, evocative, palpable images. A poet of situation and irony with a finely honed sense of the language. The more you read Simic the better he tastes. What a fine poet! A perfect melding of European and American sensibilities.
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