From Publishers Weekly
The prolific Lux (The Street of Clocks
) should please but may not surprise his many admirers with this 11th book, accessible and surrealist-influenced. Lux begins on a personal note, with a sentimental elegy for the New England poet and critic Peter Davison, the gentleman who spoke like music. By the end of the book, though, he has depicted little of his external life, few facts and stories about himself, and yet revealed a whole personality through dreamlike scenes, jokes and a persistent grimness. In The Republic of Anesthesia, evolution creates arid hairsplitting amid cruelty, as One frog eats another frog. Lux favors an unobtrusively fluent free verse, whose motions and line breaks focus less on sound than on image and tone. Reminiscent sometimes of a darker Billy Collins, sometimes of an easier-to-follow James Tate, Lux mixes deep gloom with a broad sense of humor, confessing his Autobiographophobia (I will not confide/ my serial poisoning of parakeets), contemplating black thoughts... remedyless and truculent, depicting an ideal library beside a nightmarish zoo or musing on dilemmas few of us will ever face: How Difficult/ for the quadriplegics to watch/ the paraplegics play. (Mar.)
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In these playfully misanthropic, often merrily blasphemous poems, Lux delivers a Swiftian spray of pinpricks to pieties, orthodoxies, and other forms of received wisdom. He engages in mock-epic celebrations of animal cruelty in “Peacocks at Twilight,” in which the speaker threatens to blind the beautiful birds, and in “Toad on Golf Tee,” he takes a nine iron to a “reusable, reteeable toad.” In other poems, Lux flings extravagant curses, proposes elaborate tortures for those who haven’t read Moby-Dick, and returns the glare of would-be robbers. Most memorably, he takes a cattle prod to the ways we think about Christianity. In “5,495” (the number refers to the times Jesus was whipped on his way to Calvary), Lux riffs on the lurid emphasis on Christ’s suffering: “I don’t think / the whip was used that much at Andersonville.” Still, there are unexpected moments of something like awe. Amid all the fun and games of the title poem, the poet imagines a weary God who nonetheless wants us “to have a tiny piece of Him.” --Kevin Nance