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Overtime Paperback – November 1, 2001
"Enlightenment Now: The Case for Reason, Science, Humanism, and Progress"
Is the world really falling apart? Is the ideal of progress obsolete? Cognitive scientist and public intellectual Steven Pinker urges us to step back from the gory headlines and prophecies of doom, and instead, follow the data: In seventy-five jaw-dropping graphs, Pinker shows that life, health, prosperity, safety, peace, knowledge, and happiness are on the rise. Learn more
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The twentieth was the century of the poem of personal experience, and there is no reason to think that the twenty-first won't carry the genre forward, ensuring that future chroniclers will find out fairly easily how the late-modern poets lived. Millar shows that they live like lots of other people, though quite differently from each other, in poems alike primarily in their high levels of accomplishment. He writes so musically that ordinary occurrences take on the tones and luster of extraordinary art. A college teacher's son, he got B.A and M.A. degrees but then spent 25 years as a working stiff, especially in commercial fishing and telephone line laying and repair. Paying the bills has always been a problem, and the family he created was fractured by drunkenness and divorce. He can complain, but he is too sympathetic to be any good at blaming. Hauntingly clear vignettes of surveying in wintry Alaska, worriedly accompanying his expansively drunken father in a workers' bar, and wiring a casino at 5 a.m. (the only time the management will allow it) alternate in his work with rueful, charged recollections of single-parenting his 10-year-old son, sometimes not very well, and accounts of good if slightly desperate times with a new girlfriend.The poetry of experience is seldom better than in this books. Ray Olson
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“No intellectual wink mars the poems, no one is pilloried, nothing manufactured. The forgiveness in this voice makes us feel brave.” (Barry Lopez)
“Take a sensibility of remarkable delicacy and precision, immerse it in the abrasive, often violent, atmosphere of 20th century blue-collar America, and what you get is a chronicle of drink, debt, and divorce. Joseph Millar’s Overtime includes some of the best poems about work since Phillip Levine’s. This is a first book of unusual maturity and promise.” (Madeline DeFrees)
Millar can ride a poem into some wildly imaginative territory, and he knows how to sound the blue note at just the right moment. His impulse is to tell a story, and he never forgets, as a poet, to tell it one line at a time. (Billy Collins) --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.
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I first came across Millar's work in various literary journals and was immediately struck by Millar's ability to accomplish some kind of lyrical feat in every line without sounding heavy-handed. I ordered this book and have been recommending it ever since. In short, Overtime is just a lovely example of wordsmithing at its best. Pick it up; your bookshelf will thank you!