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.
Other Sellers on Amazon
+ $3.99 shipping
+ $3.99 shipping
+ $3.99 shipping
Village Prodigies Paperback – March 21, 2017
|New from||Used from|
Top 20 lists in Books
View the top 20 best sellers of all time, the most reviewed books of all time and some of our editors' favorite picks. Learn more
Frequently bought together
Customers who bought this item also bought
“[Village Prodigies] presents a multifaceted, impressionistic history of an extended, ‘backcountry genteel’ Southern family… Holding the work together is Jones’s vivid (‘oil derricks in the white fields near the cemetery/like elephants doing pushups in dreams’) and pithy (‘It is how we see that composes us’) poetic diction. Readers who seek out experimental literature will appreciate Jones’s challenging approach to storytelling, as will those in search of richly realized, imaginatively crafted poetry.” —LIBRARY JOURNAL
“Jones presents a novel in verse that is wonderfully complex in structure and reach and lively in its characters and setting, the imaginary southern town of Cold Springs, Alabama… Any James Dickey connoisseurs or fans of the films of David Lynch or Chris Nolan will feel right at home on these pages… This is a gorgeous, thought-provoking, and evocative book of narrative poetry.” —BOOKLIST
“Already a master of narrative poetry, Rodney Jones has increased the possibilities of that form sevenfold with Village Prodigies, but that's just for starters. This book…[has] everything worth having, by the bucketload: a rare genius for the fabric of this world, linguistic inventiveness that Joyce would have envied and a music, in whatever measure he chooses to employ, that most poets don't even try for. This is it, the real thing, contemporary poetry's gold standard.”
– John Burnside, author of Black Cat Bone, winner of the Forward Prize and the T.S. Eliot Prize
“Wonderfully rich and dense; an adventure, a trip, an engrossing read, a Southern golden book of words.”
–C.D. Wright, author of Shallcross, winner of National Book Critics Circle Award, Griffin International Poetry Prize
“The affinity and affection I have for Jones’s previous books of poetry are beyond bounds, but Village Prodigies completely blows my mind—and my heart. What do you get when you combine feel-good evangelicalism, blind patriotism, Cold War paranoia, small-town gossip, southern repression and provincialism, a cast of characters Shakespeare would envy, dead-on time travel, and a recurring poetic line of pentameter? Apparently, you get this book, a novel in verse that expands the capabilities and the forms of poetry, a work of art set partly in a more innocent time that puts the turmoil of our own time into wise perspective. Here we have the diagnosis and the antidote, as Robert Penn Warren observed, a commentary and, if not a way out, at least a way forward. This is a book of inherent wisdom and explicit vision. I am tempted to say a genius is behind this, but I know, more candidly, this book is a labor, the true work and attention of art, and the full expression of love, a human love reaching for a greater love out there in the vastness. Here is a book, for all its irreverence, to raise to the heavens and be happy.”
–Maurice Manning, author of One Man's Dark and Pulitzer Prize finalist
“Village Prodigies uses a modest American town and its citizens to ponder an immodest array of the world's most baffling imponderables. Beginning with the fallibility of one's own internal compass–the mind–and extending to every further layer of reliable knowns (family, circle of friends, town, country, world), Jones' characters have been thrown a gauntlet of conflicts (personal, local, national). And if the inner world trembles with uncertainty, the physical world -- by season, by tool, by history, by progress -- plods forward regardless. The book has it both ways, showcasing the lyric beauty of the eternal and abiding, as well as celebrating the individual in his headlong hurl through the too-brief and chaotic corporeal life. I applaud the truly avant garde nature of this project.”
–Antonya Nelson, author of Funny Once and Nothing Right
“There is a novelistic wholeness, with characters recurrent and developing, and a firm sense of place which, taken together, cause the sense of entering into a whole life. The drama and individuals are compellingly present. Nobody gets lost in the interweaving or in the shifts of perspectives…Some of the events are almost too painful to face, some too funny to do anything but grin. It is a fable as strong and true as that film I love, "Stand By Me," but with the grim future we all have also hovering in every instant.”
– Dave Smith, author of Hawks on Wires and Little Boats, Unsalvaged
“It’s one of the best contemporary poetry books I’ve ever read ever. The book plays with different forms, plays with punctuation and lines, syntax and diction, varies the points of view, moves between comic and tragic. It makes the poems continually surprising both in form and content, which also creates a lot of energy…a tremendous achievement.”
–Stephen Dobyns, author of Cemetery Nights
About the Author
Top customer reviews
There was a problem filtering reviews right now. Please try again later.
The book follows its main character, Seth Portis, and his all-male cast of childhood friends, each one gifted in his own way. Because the book is not chronological, you get to see this group of friends at different phases of their lives, but not in the order you might predict. When we are introduced to Seth Portis in the first section of the book, he is an adult learning to cope with his aging parents, and his dementia-ridden mother in particular. In the second and shortest section of the book, we get a glimpse of an older Seth and a man named Brown, who we do not yet know, both grappling with the news that they have cancer. In the third section, we go back to Seth's childhood, at which point we meet all of his friends (which includes Brown), and the whole cast of characters is introduced rather humorously as a sort of MacCarthy-esque clique of 4th-grade boys who form a secret club in order to make mischief. In the fourth section of the book, we see these characters as young men coming of age during the Vietnam War. Next, we see the same men as young professionals who are incorporating new forms of high-tech entertainment and communication media into their lives (Facebook, videogames, and so on).
Some readers may be tempted to describe this book as a novel in verse, but really it's more of a series of episodes about a group of friends. And along with the poems that deal specifically with our main cast, there are other poems interspersed that act as portraits of the men's hometown, including a few minor episodes about some of the more colorful people who live in the town. (Think Winesburg, Ohio in the rural Southeast, then throw in the Red Scare, small town racisms, Vietnam, LSD, road trips, a chicken processing plant in Mexico, and more.) One has the sense that this book might have gone on forever, giving us more and more episodes about its beloved characters, and yet the collection has a sense of completeness about it. It may well be this poet's best book to date. It certainly contains some of his best poems.
I was given this book through NetGalley for an honest review.
There are nine narrations split into two books. Jones jumps around in time (he provides context, but also dates at the end of each narration) and subject matter. I found the first book more enjoyable then the second although the subject matter was more depressing (alzheimer's, cancer, Vietnam, drugs). This is an entertaining collection, and although still fragmented, makes for good, thought-provoking reading.
Book's Destiny: This is not a prodigy.