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American Poet: A Novel Paperback – February 24, 2012
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"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).Read more ›
Denver Hoptner, having failed to make the mark with his poetry the way that his on again off again girlfriend Heather succeeded in doing after they finished college and having been dismissed from a library job because of his lack of a degree in Library Science, returns to his hometown of Saginaw, Michigan - beaten, disillusioned, and being forced to live in the basement of his distant father's home (his mother who gave birth to him just before she entered menopause is dead). Denver, both as a child and as an adult, would rather spend his days and evenings reading, but his reality focused retired father insists he be employed.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
More than a coming-of-age novel, American Poet, through the earnest steadfastness of its effervescent main character, frames the argument that poetry matters today more than ever. Read morePublished on September 30, 2012 by Michael
I bought this book as a requirement for a college English class at SVSU. I am so glad we were required to read it for class or I may not have ever discovered Jeff Vande Zande's... Read morePublished on June 28, 2012 by K.E.T.
A fantastic novel. I'm not one to go into the nth degree during reviews but this is a book that should be a must read for every poet filled with self doubt, but it's a novel for... Read morePublished on May 31, 2012 by Miller