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Poems 4 A.M.

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In these poems, we come to know a different side of the acclaimed novelist Susan Minot. We find her awake in the middle of the night, contemplating love and heartbreak in all their exhilarating and anguished specifics. With astonishing openness, in language both passionate and enchanting, she offers us an intimate map of a troubled and far-flung heart: “Can you believe I thought that?” she asks, “That we would always go/roaming brave and dangerous/on wild unlit roads?”

At once witty and tender, with Dorothy Parker–like turns of the knife and memorable partings from lovers in New York, London, Rome and beyond, these poems capture a restless movement through loves and locales, and charm us at every turn with their forthrightness.

From Publishers Weekly

Apr 29, 2002 – When an acclaimed novelist suddenly switch-hits with a book of verse and publishes it as part of a high-profile poetry list, some regular readers of poetry fear the worst: that the book will be bad, and that it will get a lot of attention. Minot, author of Rapture, Evening and Monkeys, negotiates this thorny territory reasonably well, turning in a somber, carefully wrought performance that neither fully embarrasses nor especially impresses, and that will please fans looking for some of the emotional bases of her characters. Split among nine short, locale-named sections ("Massachusetts," "Long Island," "Rome," "New York City," "Tuscany," etc.), these nearly 50 poems seem, more than anything else, to be an attempt at New Yorker style rhymed commentary on upper-class life, as in the opening Eliotic riff: "I hear them behind me/ crossing Persian rugs on heel-less shoes,/ drinking Dubonnet, eating nuts/ (from the pantry the smell of stew),/ talking about naval battles/ and varsity crew,/ their voices raspy with cigars/ in underheated rooms." From there, it's on to a "Sonnet on Being Touched" ("It changed my blood entire"), "Defending Despair While Balancing on Cobblestones," "Ducking the Paparazzi" and watching, from a Martha's Vineyard perch, "Dawn in a Chilmark Barn": "In the thin morning air I saw/ clearly/ what thickens through the day/ otherwise it's too much to bear / that it only ends this way." Whether reporting on lost or distressed love, taking refuge in "roast chicken for lunch" or absorbing the incomprehension of others, the flat effect of Minot's narrator, deployed in her fiction to foreground the foibles of her characters, will be instantly recognizable to readers of the novels. Stripped of that function here, the poems are simply flat.
Poems 4 A.M.
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  • $12.99
  • Available on iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, and Mac.
  • Category: Poetry
  • Published: May 07, 2002
  • Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
  • Seller: Penguin Random House LLC
  • Print Length: 128 Pages
  • Language: English
  • Requirements: To view this book, you must have an iOS device with iBooks 1.3.1 or later and iOS 4.3.3 or later, or a Mac with iBooks 1.0 or later and OS X 10.9 or later.

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