Writing in the Georgia Review
, Peter Stitt
described Thomas Lux's writing as a "mingling of humor and sincerity," capable of both "ferocious anger and deep tenderness." These seemingly irreconcilable traits marry in Lux's best poems, which you'll find in this collection. Consider, for instance, "Travelling Exhibit of Torture Instruments." Lux is overcome by a wave of reactions to the instruments: he is awed by their genius, their effectiveness; he is obviously bitter about the depths of human cruelty; he is darkly amused by the absurdity of it all; he is bone-crushingly tired and sad at the seeming futility of life. The ending of the poem might contain any, or all of these reactions: "It seems most times men did this or that, / so terrible to him or her, / it was because God willed it so. / Or, at least, they thought He did." Lux is eclectic and brilliant, with a sharp mind and a good ear.
From Library Journal
Lux (e.g., The Blind Swimmer: Selected Early Poems, LJ 12/96) has been writing for over 20 years, and many phases of his 20-year writing career are represented in this intriguing collection. His style is deceptively essayistic and even prosy, and while at times his efforts fall into banality, many poems here are distinctive and outstanding. Lux has a notable gift for discerning the difficult and unchanging questions, and his best work offers the illumination and surprise of first-rate writing. In "Solo Native," he sees the human being as "a metaphor, a meatpacker,/ a tree dropping or gaining its credentials." Notable also are the compassionate tributes to Keats, Alexander Pope, and other past poets, the finest of which is perhaps "Postcard to Baudelaire." At times Lux is also capable of superb turns in strict form, as in "All the Slaves" or "Man Asleep in a Child's Bed." At times, as in "Spiders Wanting," he matches that spider's achievement: "to design/ the web, live on what we catch/ from air, and always returning,/ always, to the spun eluctable cave." For most collections of contemporary poetry.?Graham Christian, Andover-Harvard Theological Lib., Cambridge, Mass.
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