The Englewood Review of Books
Best Books of 2020
Advent / Christmas Calendar
Hardback: FSG Books, 2020
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[ Survival is a Style ] is his first book of new books, that are not translations, since 2014. Six years later and I find the poet no more at ease. A mild-mannered person in the flesh – he lectures gracefully and teaches literature and religion at Yale – when he raises his pen or clicks his keys, he bristles. And what bristles in him just now is what he describes in the Prologue as a kind of failure: “I need a space for unbelief to breathe.”
It does breathe, again and again, in these pages in ways that should cause every (un)believing person who reads them to reflect with similar honesty. Consider, for instance, the opening lines to the extraordinary poem that is Part Three of the collection:
Today I woke and believed in nothing.
A grief at once intimate and unfelt,
like the death of a good friend’s dog.
(from “The Parable of Perfect Silence”)
- from our review of this book by Jon M. Sweeney
[ READ the full review ]