Starred Review. In his third book, Chiasson continues his exploration of the places where older high culture meets contemporary culture, both high and popular. In this case, his poems quote from or mirror works by Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Emily Dickinson, and Henry David Thoreau, among others; the long title poem is centered around the classic children's story Sylvester and the Magic Pebble. The book explores fatherhood—both in terms of Chiasson's own father and his children. In the title poem, a story read to his children illuminates my father's distance and yet the tendency of distant things/ to become central. Distance and death are ever-present, as in the book's first poem: Here follows the phone number of a dead person, writes Chiasson. A series of short, aphoristic pieces at the book's conclusion tries to stave off endings through hide and seek: the magic trick/ of keeping time in play by yo-yo/ mini-episodes of loss and recovery. In between are poems of formal variety and accessible speech that are equal parts mournful and hopeful: If you surround yourself with sadness, you seem happy, reads a line from Monitor; Roman Song offers another note: Let everything you eat be your good food. (Mar.)
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“These poems refract the sober realities of middle age, in particular the joys and anxieties of fatherhood and grief at the deaths of friends or parents.”—The New York Review of Books
From the Trade Paperback edition.