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God Particles: Poems Tenth Edition Edition

4.4 out of 5 stars 7 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0618931828
ISBN-10: 0618931821
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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

The prolific Lux (The Street of Clocks) should please but may not surprise his many admirers with this 11th book, accessible and surrealist-influenced. Lux begins on a personal note, with a sentimental elegy for the New England poet and critic Peter Davison, the gentleman who spoke like music. By the end of the book, though, he has depicted little of his external life, few facts and stories about himself, and yet revealed a whole personality through dreamlike scenes, jokes and a persistent grimness. In The Republic of Anesthesia, evolution creates arid hairsplitting amid cruelty, as One frog eats another frog. Lux favors an unobtrusively fluent free verse, whose motions and line breaks focus less on sound than on image and tone. Reminiscent sometimes of a darker Billy Collins, sometimes of an easier-to-follow James Tate, Lux mixes deep gloom with a broad sense of humor, confessing his Autobiographophobia (I will not confide/ my serial poisoning of parakeets), contemplating black thoughts... remedyless and truculent, depicting an ideal library beside a nightmarish zoo or musing on dilemmas few of us will ever face: How Difficult/ for the quadriplegics to watch/ the paraplegics play. (Mar.)
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From Booklist

In these playfully misanthropic, often merrily blasphemous poems, Lux delivers a Swiftian spray of pinpricks to pieties, orthodoxies, and other forms of received wisdom. He engages in mock-epic celebrations of animal cruelty in “Peacocks at Twilight,” in which the speaker threatens to blind the beautiful birds, and in “Toad on Golf Tee,” he takes a nine iron to a “reusable, reteeable toad.” In other poems, Lux flings extravagant curses, proposes elaborate tortures for those who haven’t read Moby-Dick, and returns the glare of would-be robbers. Most memorably, he takes a cattle prod to the ways we think about Christianity. In “5,495” (the number refers to the times Jesus was whipped on his way to Calvary), Lux riffs on the lurid emphasis on Christ’s suffering: “I don’t think / the whip was used that much at Andersonville.” Still, there are unexpected moments of something like awe. Amid all the fun and games of the title poem, the poet imagines a weary God who nonetheless wants us “to have a tiny piece of Him.” --Kevin Nance

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 80 pages
  • Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt; Tenth Edition edition (March 17, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0618931821
  • ISBN-13: 978-0618931828
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.2 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 3.8 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,170,113 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Vivek Sharma VINE VOICE on June 3, 2008
Format: Hardcover
God Particles by Thomas Lux is his eleventh book of poetry. His verses contain rather striking and unusual images that disturb or amuse at first and then coalesce into feelings more lasting than the initial reaction. Look at some of the titles in this collection: "Hitler's slippers," "Sleep ambulance," "Stink eye," "Gravy boat goes over the waterfall," "Jesus' baby teeth," "Apology to my neighbors for beheading their duck," "The deathwatch beetle," "Sex after funerals," "Toad on golf tee," and the title poem, "God particles."

The words that flow out of these striking titles make us traverse through landscapes that are vivid and well-crafted. The abstract world of poetry is absent from the lines that saunter through (natural) elements that have pleasure for children (and adults): ants, bees, stink eye, "peacocks in twilight", toads and moles. Lux hunts for words and metaphors in realms that most poets would not venture into: "the harmonic scalpel", " the republic of anesthesia", "vinegar on chalk" (all poem titles). His similes are as uncommon as "His thoughts like a deck of cards hit/ by a howitzer. (from "Puzzlehead").

The unmistakable skill of Thomas Lux lies in creating an aftertaste, which is like the coolness felt after water evaporates away. As we discover the tenderness with which he deals with human frailties, we realize that all this satire, wit and imagery is just there to make us stop and listen. As we scrape off the last words of a poem, we sense how subtly Lux commanded compassion, tolerance, morality and honesty to float into our hearts and minds. He propels us into his poems as if we were to watch the gladiators fight to death.
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Full disclosure: I am a student of Tom Lux and I greatly like the man. That said, I'm pleased to report that this book represents a return to form by one of America's finest and most big-hearted poets. Over the years, Lux has written a majority of his poems in an ostensibly accessible style, one that draws the reader in (seduces actually) with sly humor, surprising asides and a gentle manner. Almost each of these poems suffers a turn near its close that turns the lyric towards serious matters or a philosophic reflection that seems inevitable and somehow surprising at the same time. The manner and degree of invention that appeared so fresh and inventive in "Split Horizon", "The Drowned River" and "Half-Promised Land", turned a little coy and self-knowing in recent years, the desire to entertain overwhelming the need to connect. Always, however, the technical arsenal of his writing remained impressive, the perfect line-endings, the never-wasted words, the emphasis on fresh language, the gift for perfect titles.

In "God Particles" Lux tames his recent style with an infusion of surrealism and surreptitious theology. As a result, the poems have a degree of gravitas, a weight and mystery that his many readers have not previously seen, especially if they missed reading "The Blind Swimmer", a 1996 collection of early poems from 1970 to 1975. The poems in "The Blind Swimmer" are typical of their period, fashionably surrealistic, somewhat opaque and not always applied to important issues. Lux has turned sixty and the poems in "God Particles" marry the style of the early poems to the ultimate issues of human existence, love and mortality, social dissonance and war, the existence of God and the nature of the universe. It's a good match.
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Thomas lux is indeed genius. He has developed a style that is wholly unique and identifiable. This collection is a little lighter on the oddball-moments-in-history material that he has become known for (which may make his proclamation against this kind of "dour study" in his poem "Debate Regarding the Permissibility of Eating Mermaids" in The Cradle Place a kind of benchmark in his career), but a lot else that identifies Lux's work is to be found here--his ability to set premise and explore (like "The Republic of Anasthesia" and one of my favorites in this collection, "The Utopian Wars"), his tenderness towards others ("The Gentleman Who Spoke Like Music"), his intrigue with the ramifications of violence ("Invective") as well as his humor ("Apology to My Neighbors for Beheading Their Duck") and even the occasional treatise on the nature of poetry ("The First Song"). As ever, Lux is thoughtful and creates poetic worlds that pursue a dream-like logic. Like his brother from another mother, Stephen Dobyns, Lux creates off-putting situations but often brings them around to familiar territory, which is simply the constancy of the human soul to be barbaric and sweet. This is a collection to read not in order but haphazardly, letting each poem stand in its own muddy water rather to look at as a train.

But enough stupid metaphors. Lux is an exquisite read, though I did find that the collection was overall a little too controlled, a little too well thought out--the result of this is that too few poems take the kind of amazing and dangerous leaps like he did in poems like "Wife Hits Moose." An average Lux poem beats the tar out of many contemporaries on a cloudy day, so I still recommend this collection highly, but isn't quote the kind of collection that will instill the awe that Lux is due.
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