- Paperback: 93 pages
- Publisher: Grove Press, Open City Books; 1 edition (July 1999)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1890447048
- ISBN-13: 978-1890447045
- Product Dimensions: 0.2 x 5.5 x 9 inches
- Shipping Weight: 4.8 ounces
- Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars See all reviews (46 customer reviews)
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #185,710 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Actual Air Paperback – July, 1999
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The Amazon Book Review
Author interviews, book reviews, editors picks, and more. Read it now
From The New Yorker
"David Berman is a young Virginian poet with a sly, intense regard for the past. He comes on like a prankster, restocking the imperial orations of Wallace Stevens and the byzantine monologues of John Ashbery with the pop-cultural bric-a-brac of a new generation: 'I am not a cub scout seduced by Iron Maiden's mirror worlds.' But his words have and easy, eloquent gait; each line needs to be a line. The landscapes are crisply American, and history, especially Southern history, casts a shadow. A poem about the death of Lincoln ends, 'The assassin was in mid-air/when the stagehands wheeled out the clouds.'"
"Actual Air is actual poetry. Berman is on a mission to make the world strange, to find in the doo-dads of daily life a profound weirdness . . . which makes for a rarity in contemporary poetry." -- Spin, June 1999
"Actual Air is one of the funniest, smartest, and sweetest books of the year, a collection of snapshots colored ecstatically outiside the lines. This is the absurd American sublime, poetry that raises the stakes on the everyday and bluffs the blunders." -- GQ, July 1999
"Berman's debut announces the discovery of a great American poetic storytelling voice by a new generation." -- Publisher's Weekly, June 28, 1999
"In Berman's universe, time slips lazily on by, life thoroughly strange and perpetually interesting . . .Berman is very much alive to life's nuances, even in what many might think of as bland surroundings." -- Time Out New York, May 27, 1999
"When was the last time you picked up a volume of poetry and found yourself hanging on every word, reading it all the way through in a single sitting and then going back to the beginning? This first collection from Berman is that kind of book. Full of casually sharp observations about the most mundane subjects. Air is funny, weird, and profound, whether it's tackling the nature of hallways or the architecture of back pain." -- Entertainment Weekly, July 30, 1999
Berman's is a funny, smart, on-again, off-again poetry of great promise. -- The New York Times Book Review, David Kirby
Top Customer Reviews
Berman does have a healthy dollop of poetic pretensions, but it seems most modern poets can not avoid this problem. Perhaps it is due to the overwhelming self-centeredness the art form has grown into. Moments do shine, where, almost in a winking with the reader, Berman speaks plainly. In these moments the profundity emanates from the simplicity.
Right away, in the second poem, 'Classic Water':
and I remember how I would always refer to her boyfriends
as what's-his-face, which was wrong of me and I'd like
to apologize to those guys right now, wherever they are:
No one deserves to be called what's-his-face.
Simple and severe, humorous and sad. This mish-mash of emotional content written as humorous anecdotal lines is plentiful throughout the book.
From 'Self Portrait at 28':
We will travel to Mars
even as folks on Earth
are still ripping open potato chip
bags with their teeth.
The above mixes the complex with the simple, the future and the past become one.
In 'CORAL GABLES':
"I refuse to be the middleman in a relationship
between you and the florist."
A fittingly hilarious and sad remark. This book is recommended.
Souvenirs only remind you of buying them.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
This book of poems is an American Classic. It deserves to remain in print as much as Robert Frost's A Boy's Will does.Published 12 months ago by Scott Brennan
I have purchased this book three times since the year 2000. I keep loaning it out, not getting it back, pining for it for years, then relenting and buying it again. Read morePublished 16 months ago by Jerry Denim
David Berman does something in "Actual Air," that I can't put my finger on. The tone flows from the first page to the last page so well, and I feel as though I am on this... Read morePublished 18 months ago by Derek Ellis
Came quickly and in good condition. Love the book, David Berman is a true poet.Published 22 months ago by dp1980
I buy this book all the time because I give it away to people over and over. I have never read more brilliant poetry. Read morePublished on May 3, 2013 by pennyeach
This is a fantastic book.
Some back story on the publication of Actual Air written by the publisher, with reflections on Berman, in this article:
[... Read more