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American Busboy (Akron Series in Poetry) Paperback – July 27, 2011

4.0 out of 5 stars 3 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Matthew Guenette's poems have appeared in Barn Owl Review, Anti-, New Orleans Review, Quarterly West, and The National Poetry Review. He lives and works in Madison, Wisconsin, and is the author of Sudden Anthem.
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Product Details

  • Series: Akron Series in Poetry
  • Paperback: 77 pages
  • Publisher: University Of Akron Press (July 27, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1931968977
  • ISBN-13: 978-1931968973
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.2 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 3.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #803,235 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By John Michael Albert on September 5, 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
In a field, poetry, crowded with the work of perceptive and acute MFA's, there's a certain level of skill and craftsmanship that it is safe to expect--and Matthew Guenette fills the bill wonderfully. Here is an earnest and raw memoir of youthful hijinx as a busboy at one of those year-round seafood places that dot the New England seacoast: tourists in summer, locals in winter. Guenette's poems capture that wild sense of unpredictability, the "where is this all going" feeling that everyone has to pass through between youth and adulthood, with an honesty that some will find shocking. It is easy enough for a poet to turn his attentions to the favorite subjects of hymns and the greatest hits of the English Romantics. After all, there's so much precedence. It is much harder for the same poet to focus on personal experience as we remember experiencing it (pace Wordsworth), and raise it to the level of revelation. The glare is harsh, of course, the fundamental condition of reality. But the memory of it predominates for its brittle honesty. That is what elevates what might otherwise be the subject of highway-overpass graffiti or locker-room bandinage to art. And it is what Guenette does in American Busboy. So, if the occasional four-letter word, and "body parts and squishy noises" send your Sense of Propriety into a kerfuffle, don't buy this book. It's not for you. But if you find consolation in a sympathetic, unblinking reflection of what "being on this earth" is like at its core--which is certainly what I look for in modern poetry--Guenette's pleasure is all yours.
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Format: Paperback
These poems are a refreshing change from the usual anguished academic therapist-session personal reflections on which so much current poetry is based. They are a set of riffs on the experience of working as a bus boy in a tourist area fast food restaurant -- much of the imagery is, deliberately, as unpleasant as the food served in such establishments. While limited in range, the poems are usually clever and lively: I think many of them, and the most successful, would be more effective read aloud than they are on the page. The few poems relying more on textual patterns on the page I thought less successful. All in all, an entertaining read (and how many poetry books can you say that about nowadays) which will provide a shock of recognition to anyone who has ever worked a menial job.
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Format: Paperback
This is the first poetry book I've ever read cover-to-cover in one sitting. The irreverence, humor, word play, smart literary allusions, societal commentary and power in the punch of the language got me hooked. Matthew Guenette is a man who will lay his verse on the page in all its saucy and butter dripping glory and isn't afraid to brand the plastic bib as a saver of lives.
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