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Night of the Republic Hardcover – January 17, 2012


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 80 pages
  • Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt; First Edition edition (January 17, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0547329709
  • ISBN-13: 978-0547329703
  • Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 6.2 x 0.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (21 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #218,898 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

In his twelfth collection of poetry, Shapiro, who holds an endowed chair at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, is concerned with phenomena and places. He finds the most generic location and douses for its most evocative associations. A gas station restroom at night, for example, has a stink and anonymity that seem to evoke the general unease of road tripping. An empty strip club during the day holds the presence of its lonely strippers and their lonelier clientele, inching their chairs too close to the stage and the women’s nudity. “Stone Church,” “Hospital Examination Room,” “Indoor Municipal Pool”—all receive this schematic treatment. Old buildings are “embarrassed” by their modernist neighbors, “by how nakedly / outside / outside is here.” Here the line breaks add emphasis to a resonant idea, the sense amplified by the sounds. In the last third of the book, Shapiro uses a similar approach, formally and aesthetically, to visions from his childhood. Readers might take comfort in Shapiro’s visions. The poet is also debuting as a novelist this month with Broadway Baby (2012). --Michael Autrey

About the Author

Alan Shapiro is the William R. Kenan Jr. Distinguished Professor of English and Creative Writing at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. He is the author of nine acclaimed books of poetry. He is a former recipient of the Kingsley Tufts Award and the Los Angeles Book Prize and was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award. He was recently elected as a fellow in the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

Customer Reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars
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Light from gas, so like Genesis, so cosmic.
Aceto
One of the best things about Shapiro's work is that is very accessible as well as engaging.
Kim L
To be frank it took me three readings to really understand it.
Richard C. Geschke

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By choiceweb0pen0 VINE VOICE on March 21, 2012
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Alan Shapiro's Night of the Republic. In the first few sections, the books goes through some unnamed small town. He uses a great deal of repetition built on sparse language shaped from careful observation. This universality can sometimes give this part of the collection a blandness in trying to use a minimal amount of concrete words.

The town in Night of the Republic could be any small town. "Dry Cleaner" could be about any dry cleaner:

Inside the giant room
the air is like the air inside
the smallest closet,
stuffed full and locked.

The personification of the plastic is a little expected: "The plastic wears the clothes/ that wear no bodies" I think of Mathew Harvey's "Pity the Bathtub Its Forced Embrace of the Human Form" but then the poem manages to take a creepy and then a surprising turn, "that hangs from the inverted roller/ coaster of the conveyer/ that conveys them nowhere now"

It's these surprises that made me want to keep reading. One of the rare people in these town poems is in "Supermarket" though her presence is minimal:

The one cashier is dozing -
head nodding, slack mouth open,
above the cover girl spread out before her on the counter

then the poem moves to register tape and scanner, it moves to

Registers of feeling too precise
too intricate to feel
except in the disintegrating
traces of a dream--

the play on the word registers is appropriate here, but then the poem seems to get caught up in vocabulary and wordplay fireworks: "panopticon of cameras/ cutting in timed procession/ from aisle to aisle.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By B. Niedt on December 15, 2011
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
The cover is a giveaway of what to expect from Alan Shapiro's latest book of poetry: a stark night photograph of a gas station plaza reminiscent of an Edward Hopper painting. Two of the four sections of this collection are devoid of humans (except the narrator of course), and are powerful set pieces of various buildings and locations late at night, after all the people have gone home to sleep. Yet there's still "life" to these places: blinking lights, a twirling barber pole, dust motes in the air - as these settings become characters in their own right. Stores, a church, a playground, an indoor pool, a government office building - they are all subjects of these poems, which often invoke an unsettling but stark beauty.
One of the most effective is "Public", in which the narrator observes a public housing apartment building with the blue glow of a TV in one window, and a sheet of newspaper blown up against the fence

...like a
fugitive the dogs
are closing in on,
wanting in, wanting
for God's sake someone
to take him in, as if
the sole blue light
above were safety[...]
it is news
calling out to news
as pixel to print
to pixel over circuits
and atonal airways
that someone earlier
left on before leaving
to make it seem
as if someone were home.

As if to relieve this urban desolation, Shapiro populates the second section with human subjects, like a homeless man, a customer in a Quik-Mart, a man at a urinal, a demented hospital patient. The last section is a moving cycle of poems that focuses on objects that conjure up the narrator's childhood, and what I interpret as the loss of his mother.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By J. A Magill TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on December 6, 2011
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Reading Alan Shapiro's latest collection, "Night of the Republic," on might reasonably ask whether one can produce extraordinary art on topics such as a downtown strip club or a hospital examination room. The answer to this question lies in the ability of the artist to reach through and beyond his subject to massage out some deeper truth within such otherwise pedestrian surroundings.

On this score, Shapiro plainly succeeds. The poet considers the space which these poems describe, but they do so much more, offering views on topics such as life, death, and emptiness, all delivered through magnificent language and often with considerable humor. In harnessing the physicality of space, Shapiro is able to reach beyond it. A fine example, "Supermarket" appropriately enough opens on the cashier by the magazine rack:

The one cashier is dozing--
head nodding, slack mouth open,
above the cover girl spread out before her on the counter
smiling up
with indiscriminate forgiveness
and compassion for everyone
who isn't her.

Shapiro moves from there to that sense of cavernous space and the loneliness it can provoke.

The stranger part of this collection is its section titled "Galaxy Formation," where the poems move into a direct consideration of broader, less tangible topics. Like the others, these poems demonstrate Shapiro's vast skill, often rendered with a heartbreaking clarity. Consider, for example, the following lines from "Forgiveness" where the subject drinks her tea:

Hands trembling as she lifts it,
though not at all from agitation
but from a merely
neurological event
that isn't punishment
beyond the punishment in store for anyone
lucky enough to live so long.
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