Failure and over one million other books are available for Amazon Kindle. Learn more
Buy Used
FREE Shipping on orders over $35.
Used: Very Good | Details
Sold by Saved_Books
Condition: Used: Very Good
Comment: SHIPS DIRECTLY FROM AMAZON. Book looks sharp with only minor wear. May have small dings.
Have one to sell? Sell on Amazon
Flip to back Flip to front
Listen Playing... Paused   You're listening to a sample of the Audible audio edition.
Learn more
See this image

Failure Hardcover – November 5, 2007

See all 6 formats and editions Hide other formats and editions
Amazon Price New from Used from
"Please retry"
Hardcover, November 5, 2007
$2.96 $0.01

Hero Quick Promo
12 Days of Kindle Book Deals
Load your library with Amazon's editors' picks, $2.99 or less each today only. Learn more

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 128 pages
  • Publisher: Harcourt; 1 edition (November 5, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0151015260
  • ISBN-13: 978-0151015269
  • Product Dimensions: 8.3 x 6.6 x 0.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,722,345 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

The careful, compassionate sixth outing from Schultz (Living in the Past) reverses the plot many poetry books imply. Rather than show an emotional problem (in the first poems) followed by its gradual solution, Schultz begins with warm, even heartwarming, short depictions of love, marriage, fatherhood, and mourning, in which even the elegies find reasons to love life. Schultz addresses the deceased poet David Ignatow: "I didn't go/ to your funeral, but, late at night, I/ bathe in the beautiful ashes of your words." As a reader moves through the volume, and especially in "The Wandering Wingless"- the sequence whose 58 segments and 54 pages conclude the book\-Schultz's gladness gives way to regret and grim fear. Devoted (like several of Schultz's short poems) to the virtues of dogs and of dog-ownership, and to the horrors of September 11, "Wingless" meanders through the poet's own depression and his young adult life before settling on his continuing grief for his unstable, suicidal father. "Why/ did Dad own, believe in,/ admit to, understand/ and love nothing?" It is a question no poet could answer, though Schultz sounds brave, and invites sympathy, as he tries. The clear, even flat, free verse suggests Philip Booth, though Schultz's Jewish immigrant heritage, and his attachment to New York City, place him far from Booth's usual rural terrain. Few readers will find his language especially varied or inventive; many, however, could see their own travails in his plainly framed, consistently articulated sorrows and joys.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.


"Philip Schultz’s language reminds me of such modern masters as Isaac Rosenberg and Hart Crane. It’s one thing I’ve always admired in his poetry; that and a heartbreaking tenderness that goes beyond mere pity and that is so present in Failure. It’s as if he bears our pain." --Gerald Stern, winner of the National Book Award

"Philip Schultz’s poems have long since earned their own place in American poetry. His stylistic trademarks are his great emotional directness and his intelligent haranguing—of god, the reader, and himself. He is one of the least affected of American poets, and one of the fiercest." --Tony Hoagland

More About the Author

PHILIP SCHULTZ won the 2008 Pulitzer Prize for his most recent book of poems, Failure. His poetry and fiction have appeared in The New Yorker, Poetry, the Nation, the New Republic, and the Paris Review, among other magazines. In addition, he is the founder and director of the Writers Studio in New York.

Customer Reviews

It's extremely good; I highly recommend it.
How interesting to make the image on the cover of a poetry book one of its best metaphors?
Like Yeats, Schultz has gotten better and better with every book.
Jaime Reyes

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

25 of 27 people found the following review helpful By Jaime Reyes on November 7, 2007
Format: Hardcover
Let me say from the get-go that the risky title of this book works better than I could ever have expected. Rather than being a failure, Philip Schultz's fifth book-length collection - his sixth if you count his superb chapbook, "My Guardian Angel Stein" (1986) - illuminates the dim recesses of what it means to be a failure. But this new book does so in a brilliantly successful way. Take Schultz's poems about his hapless father.

In previous collections Schultz's portraits of his dad abound with plenty of pathos. In the title poem of his new book, Schultz makes the distinction between a nobody - "You can't remember / a nobody's name, that's why / they're called nobodies" - and a true failure: "Failures are unforgettable." Schultz then proceeds to catalogue and commemorate his father's business failures: "a parking lot that raised geese, / a motel that raffled honeymoons, / a bowling alley with roving mariachis." I find Samuel Schultz's business schemes as hilarious as anything I've heard in the annals of down-and-outers. More than ever before, Schultz's remembrance of things past takes on epic perspective. The poems in "Failure" will hardly ever fail to succeed in bringing you to tears, or such gales of laughter you might as well be listening to one of the greatest stand-up tragi-comic artists of our time.

The book's cover photo of a bent nail that's been hammered into wood badly - unsuccessfully - suggests the offbeat - bent out of shape? - funny-sad Eastern European sensibility of someone like Isaac Babel, who stated, "We're all failed sentences. . . / one big lopsided family of relative clauses / who agree on nothing, whose only subject is / how we came to be us, despite our passion for / knowledge, especially while we were still alive.
Read more ›
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Gary W. Melhart on December 21, 2008
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
My determination for liking a poem is whether it makes me see or feel a subject in a new or unique way. Philip Shultz succeeds in doing this in the majority of his offerings for this collection--the ironic title not withstanding. There is also a coziness in many of the pieces that settles nicely over one as the poems are read.
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Reader and Writer on October 11, 2009
Format: Hardcover
Ok, how not to start with the end of the line from Beckett. Failure is a beautiful collection of poems. The first ones sneak up on you, like the flakes of a season's first snow, dislked but then stunning in their magic. Failure creeps into all aspects of Schultz's life, in his relationships, in his thoughts, in his actions. Nothing is good enough it seems, but can that in itself be beauty? Can that be good enough? "I could sit by the window watching the leaves,/which seem to know exactly how to fall/ from one moment to the next. Or I could lose/ everything and have to begin over again." Schultz plays with simple words and simple phrases, striving for straight emotions but ending up peripherally skirting them -- but this gives the poems strength by way of the contrast of phraseology and semantic content. The final poem is a long meditation on dog walking and life and death. "I don't know how to proceed,/ I said, I never knew/ because/ it hurts so bad.//Yes it does, he said,/ Yes, indeed." Tinged by melancholy and loss, the poems are shining gems. Don't fail to get a copy.
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By D. Lynn on December 19, 2008
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This work is very touching, deep, serious, human and beautiful.
The stories and characters are greatly depicted.
We all have failures. This book is a success in taking them up.
I am very impressed by it!!
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
5 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Robert Beveridge HALL OF FAMEVINE VOICE on October 14, 2009
Format: Hardcover
Philip Schultz, Failure (Harcourt, 2007)

I got about a third of the way through Failure then misplaced the book. Once I found it and started again, I found I liked it better, thus adding more evidence to my hypothesis that the current emotions of the reader affect what s/he feels about any given book. Which sounds like an optimistic beginning to this review, but I didn't like it that much better.

Narrative poetry is a tricky thing, especially given that poetry is where that old chestnut "show, don't tell" does the majority of its heavy lifting. Sometimes the line gets blurry enough that you can read a passage either way. The poets who tread this particular line tend to be more inconsistent than most, for obvious reasons; I can't think of anyone who always manages to stay on the "show" side. Then again, such things may be judgment calls. I'll leave it to you:

"Patricia says, the Righteous Brothers and I
moved in Thanksgiving, 1977,
and immediately began looking for
that ever-loving feeling, rejoicing
at being a citizen of the ever-clanging future,
all of us walking up Perry Street,
down West Tenth, around Bleecker,
along the Hudson, with dogs, girlfriends..."
("The Adventures of 78 Charles Street")

It looks like a pretty clear-cut example of "tell" to me. But, as usual, one can find a just-about-equal number of examples of "show", most of which are in the back half of the book (which can also be used as evidence that the emotions of the reader have nothing to do with his or her feelings about the book), which is comprised of the long poem "The Wandering Wingless". It's worth reading, but it probably won't be the best book you pick up this year. ***
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again

Most Recent Customer Reviews

What Other Items Do Customers Buy After Viewing This Item?