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"Something Urgent I Have to Say to You": The Life and Works of William Carlos Williams Hardcover – November 8, 2011

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"Something Urgent I Have to Say to You": The Life and Works of William Carlos Williams + The Autobiography of William Carlos Williams (New Directions Paperbook) + The Collected Poems of William Carlos Williams, Vol. 1: 1909-1939
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Editorial Reviews

Review

Mr. Leibowitz has written an acutely detailed, searching, and indeed discovering biography of an operose human being, the beloved New Jersey doctor and poet (and novelist and patriot-critic and autobiographer) William Carlos Williams, whose ever-provisional, always exploratory, and often experimental art was invariably committed to the illusive presentment of simplicity, familiarity, and even normality. Unlike any other studies of this figure, Leibowitz's study of the good doctor Williams leaves us in no doubt of his troubled and troubling character. 'Something Urgent I Have to Say to You' is the first effectively intimate life-and-works study of a still uncertainly placed modern figure to offer a quandary, not a condolence call, a judgment that is neither a reassur­ance nor a bum's rush. Patiently yet sportively, Herbert Leibowitz enables us to make the first grown-up reading of a man who has hitherto been offered as an adolescent hero or a childish hooligan. A valuable achievement! (Richard Howard)

Besides being a famously exacting editor, Herbert Leibowitz is a writer of exceptional gifts--elegant prose, critical sensitivity, keen empathy, and narrative grace. In the protean career of William Carlos Williams, he has found his ideal subject. His search­ing account of Williams's life and personality, as seen through the prism of his work, makes for irresistible reading. (Morris Dickstein, author of Dancing in the Dark: A Cultural History of the Great Depression)

In 'Something Urgent I Have to Say to You' Williams--inarguably a twentieth-century American master--is lovingly (but not uncritically) assessed in a twenty-first-century masterpiece of literary biography and analysis. With a fan's enthusiasm and a scholar's rigor, Herbert Leibowitz has given us a bountiful, beautiful project-of-a-lifetime book, the capacious embrace of which is made all the more amazing and all the more enduring by its author's own sentence-by-sentence demonstration of verbal solidity wedded to verbal felicity. (Albert Goldbarth)

About the Author

Herbert Leibowitz has been the editor of the literary magazine Parnassus since he helped found it in 1973. He lives in New York City.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 528 pages
  • Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux; 1St Edition edition (November 8, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0374113297
  • ISBN-13: 978-0374113292
  • Product Dimensions: 6.4 x 1.7 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.8 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #500,508 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

9 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Bibliophile on December 21, 2011
Format: Hardcover
What an insightful, absorbing, and masterful study of an important and influential American poet. I knew very little about Williams's prose before, and I never fully appreciated how deeply his work and life were entwined. Leibowitz is the perfect guide and unraveler of yarns, who writes in a style that's blessedly readable, jargon-free, elegant and witty. What a welcome treat in such a scholarly work. I was especially moved by the beautiful last chapter of the book, about Williams's old age, when he suffered serial strokes and wrestled with aphasia. Many writers (Beckett, Rexroth, Meredith and West, to name but a few), have suffered a similar fate. Leibowitz brings to that chapter--as he does to the work as a whole--unusual clarity, empathy and sensitivity. I found the book altogether fascinating and profoundly moving, an essential passkey to understanding the heart of Williams' work.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Sylvia Carter on October 12, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book contains much revealing information I had not known about William Carlos Williams, the incredible American poet who was also a New Jersey physician. For anyone interested in poets or in Williams in particular, it is a treasure.
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12 of 19 people found the following review helpful By David Curry on December 18, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Leibowitz' book is an oddly constricted view of an expansive poet. If you're going to read only one literary biography of William Carlos Williams, make it Paul Mariani's 1981 WILLIAM CARLOS WILLIAMS: A NEW WORLD NAKED.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful By John Gribble on October 22, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I wanted a more conventional biography, not a psycological evaluation. I had hoped to learn who Williams read and more about his influences, not who the poet lusted after.
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