Enter your mobile number 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.
Getting the download link through email is temporarily not available. Please check back later.

  • Apple
  • Android
  • Windows Phone
  • Android

To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.

Have one to sell? Sell on Amazon
Flip to back Flip to front
Listen Playing... Paused   You're listening to a sample of the Audible audio edition.
Learn more
See this image

The Common Man Hardcover – April 9, 2010

4.5 out of 5 stars 14 customer reviews

See all 4 formats and editions Hide other formats and editions
Price
New from Used from
Kindle
"Please retry"
Hardcover
"Please retry"
$14.86 $4.52

The Amazon Book Review
The Amazon Book Review
Author interviews, book reviews, editors picks, and more. Read it now
click to open popover

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

This fourth book by Yale Younger Poet's Prize–winner Manning is, like his previous books, a unified sequence, though this one takes an autobiographical turn, recounting the Kentucky of the poet's childhood, evoking the first time I heard the story// I was born to tell, the first I knew/ that I was in the story, too. The poems are friendly, if also full of sadness, as in Old Negro Spiritual, which recalls a lost friend, his voice, the way/ it sounded, a song inside a sound;// it hurt to hear it then, and it hurts/ that I can't hear it anymore. While recalling his private world, Manning also reaches out to what everyone has in common: not a day goes by/ that isn't stabbed with common sorrow,// with death, regret, and loneliness,/ and some of us get a bigger portion// of the little tragedies. That's not/ uncommon, though, now is it? But there are happy memories too, or sad ones tinged with happiness, as in a story about a donkey named Clyde. All set in couplets, the poems have a way of running together, but most readers will find themselves charmed by Manning's smart, companionable voice. (Apr.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Review

"This fourth book by Yale Younger Poet's Prize–winner Manning is, like his previous books, a unified sequence . . . The poems are friendly, if also full of sadness. . . . Readers will find themselves charmed by Manning's smart, companionable voice." —Publishers Weekly

"Maurice Manning’s fourth collection of poems, The Common Man, brings the tales and idiom of a sort of American Robert Burns, a rough-hewn Appalachian experience that’s comedic and exuberant, sly and pointed as it works its way around what Manning calls ‘the big ideas.’ James Dickey used to say he wanted to write ‘country surrealism’ and meant the tales, as strange as they are cultural reflections, that come with fireside talking. And, oh yes, singing. Manning has big talents and none are more impressive than his singing, a word much overused when speaking of poets. I think few will disagree this is memorable music, entertaining, rich, often spooky-wise. The Common Man marks Maurice Manning as a most uncommon poet." —Dave Smith, author of Little Boats, Unsalvaged

"The Common Man is Maurice Manning’s homage to a way of being human that has all but vanished, but he has the lyrical powers and the gumption to resuscitate and carry it—in tetrameter couplets, on a voice that seems, at once, of another era and utterly contemporary: bawdy tales, philosophical questions, jokes, prayers—the heart’s truth. This is country in the way that Twain and Faulkner were country, and if you miss the high art of it all or the elegiac underpinning, check your pulse. This one’s for the ages." —Rodney Jones, author of Salvation Blues

NO_CONTENT_IN_FEATURE

New York Times best sellers
Browse the New York Times best sellers in popular categories like Fiction, Nonfiction, Picture Books and more. See more

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 112 pages
  • Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt; 1st edition (April 9, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0547249616
  • ISBN-13: 978-0547249612
  • Product Dimensions: 9 x 6 x 0.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #209,384 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By B. Niedt on February 27, 2010
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
I approached this volume of poetry with a little skepticism. The cover is graced with a photo of a donkey and the back-cover blurb refers to the "accessibility" and "sincere charms" of Manning's work. Uh-oh, I thought, am I in for a Southern version of "cowboy poetry"? It didn't take more than two poems to allay my fears though - this is a lyric and well-crafted collection. Presented in free-verse couplets throughout the book, Manning gives voice to a variety of backwoods denizens who are free with their stories and homespun advice. It takes a little while to get used to these characters speaking in the vernacular within such a lyrical, almost formal framework, but once the reader gets into the cadence of these poems, it seems a more natural fit. The poetry never lapses into corn, cheap sentiment or condescension; in fact, much of it is quite eloquent, often spiritual, and at times even metaphysical, laced with a gentle humor and fondness for the subjects and a keen ear for dialect. Manning reminds me a bit of Midwestern poet Ted Kooser, especially the latter's "The Blizzard Voices". It's a fascinating collection that allows us a peek into a languid rural South that is perhaps disappearing a little more each day.
Comment 7 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Having grown up New York my entire life and having always been a city dweller, I was a little skeptical about the synopsis of Maurice Manning's collection "The Common Man" as "drawing all readers into the Kentucky landscape." The only poet I know of who has ever managed to make the South appealing to me was Frank Stanford (and of course Faulkner), and I didn't particularly *like* where they took me. For the first time in the history of my scandalous and checkered reading career, a writer finally made the South sound somewhat appealing and drowned out the sound of Dickey's banjos' in "Deliverance".

These poems, inextricably linked with Manning's experience as Good ol' Boy, are not limited to his provincial experiences. They explore very widely and beautifully the human condition--loneliness, romance, metaphysical dilemmas ("Prayer To God In a Time of Desolation" is one of the most successfully realized poems on that particular subject I believe I've read, interweaving Southern slang with a desperate plea to the Lord) and the expectations put on a man growing up in this kind of cultural environment. "Unrhymed iambic tetrameter", as the Amazon reviewer above described it, does not adequately cover this guy's command of craft. Unreservedly recommended for those who tire of the sometimes maudlin and predictable state of poetry in the contemporary world.
Comment 8 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
maurice manning has a penchant for spaced couplets, a penchant and a flair. a mastery. here there are thirty nine couplets, unrhymed, mostly iambic. tensile lines bearing tall tale, fable, family anecdote, a bit of a limerick, a suggestion of song, talking animals, insects and vegetables, ironic persiflage, and landscape description - breathtaking spans so light his prehensile construction breathes an air of magic.

more to his credit, manning knows his place and respects those who came before him and their way of life. he has a good ear for channeling the voices from his past of rural kentucky, mountain country, hill country, and if I may say so, hillbilly country, and transcribing those voices to the page for a highly readable volume of poems. and there's nothing mean about the way manning handles dialect and idiom, carefully saving what scraps he can from obscurity before they have completed disappeared.

`Well, this is nothing new, nothing
to rattle the rafters in the noggin,'

`does anyone still say he runs
a right smart cattle? ...'

`You people don't know the half of it!
How many words are gone forever,

no syllable or sound remains;
how many stories die on the lips

of the teller? ...'

`Emptying a rain gauge ....he said, Yep.
And there it was, a nip of Yep

To bring me back to the wondrous world, ...'
Comment 5 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Maurice Manning writes with a looping storyteller rhythm reminiscent of Allen Ginsberg and Ciaran Carson, leavened with the down-home folksiness of Will Rogers. His irregular couplets have the casual ease of pickle-barrel bull sessions, yet are packed with careful details that permit an intense, thoughtful reading. And his wry stories are just arresting enough to make you want to keep reading.

Like many recent poets, Manning channels the vernacular of his native region, in this case rural Kentucky, to create a collage of the people and experiences which make his home meaningful. He opens with a rural coming-of-age ritual, the first swig of moonshine from the jug, and progresses through farmers, families, laborers, animals, and the land. The music of people's speech comes alive in his hands.

These lines from the middle of the book are emblematic of the lyric power Manning brings to bear, a music that is both remarkably forthright and surprisingly subtle:

He sang the oldest songs of all,
and in between he'd tell me what

a woman likes. They's ones what is
par-tickler, he said, and blew

the tobacco dust away from him.
He had a crippled dog named Dog.

This offhand exchange sticks with me because anybody who's lived in the areas city slickers drive past has known somebody like this. The figure comes alive with vigor and working-class majesty beyond his simple, slangy words.

Most of these poems are quite long, and often take an indirect approach to their topic. I could wish some of them spent a little less time in knuckle-cracking, since they require too much digression to reach their point. And because of Manning's strange vernacular rhythm, the book starts to get a hypnotic pattern going.
Read more ›
Comment 3 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse

Most Recent Customer Reviews