Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.
American Poet: A Novel Paperback – February 24, 2012
Best Books of the Year So Far in fiction, nonfiction, mysteries, children's books, and much more.
Frequently Bought Together
Customers Who Bought This Item Also Bought
"This coming-of-age tale centers on a young poet, who is ill-prepared for and frustrated by the hometown he returns to, where he fights with his father and with himself. Set against the backdrop of a broken city and a failed relationship, the novel champions poetry and the underdog--whether it be our seemingly--incompetent narrator, a baseball team, or a failing non-profit. With American Poet, Jeff Vande Zande has written a love poem for the city of Saginaw, and, by extension, a love poem for Flint, Gary, Cleveland, or any forgotten city in the Rust Belt." -Gina Myers
Top Customer Reviews
I have a history with Saginaw. I have a history with poetry. I have a history with a non-profit's struggle for funding. So, while I am not exactly your average, objective reader, I enjoyed this book for reasons over and above, and chances are, so will you.
On the face of it, this is a simple story: college graduate unable to find employment moves back home, drifts for a while in a town he has outgrown, failing to get through to his father (and vice versa), until he finds a cause close to his heart.
Oh, but there are so many treats stored away in this book. While I recognized many things from my Saginaw days, I learned just as many new facts about it in these pages. Obviously, Saginaw stands for so many towns, in Michigan and elsewhere, struggling for relevance, for survival in this protracted economic downturn, just as Denver Hoptner, the protagonist, stands for so many young people leaving college and having to face the real world with a "useless" degree.
Coming from Europe, where as a rule everything old is preserved, updated, and repurposed, I have often been shocked at the disregard for the historical and cultural patrimony that leads to twenty-year-old buildings being torn down because they are "dated." Living in Michigan for close to a quarter century has taught me that every "boring" Midwestern town has a hidden history worth looking into.
Denver and Lee Hoptner's uneasy father-son relationship is endearingly rendered, without crossing into sentimentality. Their disagreement about the pronunciation of poet Theodore Roethke's last name made me smile (and brought back memories of taking my kids to swim and ride the miniature train at Roethke Park).
Vande Zande illuminates the importance of poetry in our lives and how it is often found in unexpected places, while gently mocking poetry-as-an-academic-discipline and the business-like strategizing of its graduates. His portrayal of the competitiveness of aspiring poets is true to life, including the petty jealousies among friends and the rivalry between couples when one of them becomes marginally more successful in the field.
Last but not least, the author pays homage to those among us who strive selflessly for a cause greater then themselves, personified in Abby Waters, and the inspiration they can bring to others even when they feel as if they are failing in their efforts. A very comforting thought indeed.
Before I forget, I love the cover and was happy to learn that the iconic pink rabbit is glowing once more in the Saginaw night sky.
for Excellence in Writing by a Michigan Author.
This from the New York Journal of Books:
"Jeff Vande Zande's new novel, American Poet, is an important book--a tour de force. It seems to do everything that an excellent novel does.
Consider this: A good book tightly grips its target readers and holds onto them to the end. Some good books make their main points so well that in the end readers not only clearly see what the author is saying, but also agree.
But really great books respect the reader's intelligence and leave us thinking new things or seeing old things in new ways. A synthesis takes place in our mind and we close the book realizing it has provided a truly enriching experience. Simply put: American Poet is a success." NYJB