In his wry debut collection of poetry, celebrated critic David Orr ponders the dark underworld of the ordinary, as he traverses the suburban gothic landscape of modern America. Orr finds and names what’s at the core of being human: sorrow, kindness, familial love, and memory. The poems are playful, fashioned of fables, familiar objects, and the supernatural, inviting every reader to enter in.
For all that vanished week, he seemed to float
In bath-warm water by a harmless beach,
Never noticing the spinning instruments
That exposed his spine, nor the probes that ran
Along his lower vertebrae like mice.
Later, he would wake each night screaming
In helpless confusion, but at the time
There was just the sun, the beach, the sun, the salt water,
And dark forms being kind.
Only a month
After the incident, having lost the skill
Of knowing what was real, he walked
Into headlights he had thought were his wife.
“With his trademark drollery and endlessly perceptive wit, Orr explores the more sinister aspects of suburban life… It is an absolute treat to peer out at the world from Orr’s scrutinizing eyes, to reevaluate anything we might foolishly think of as familiar.” —Paris Review
“David Orr is an authentic iconoclast. His criticism is exuberant and original. Dr. Johnson, my critical hero, urged us to clear our mind of cant. Orr has cleared his. He will enhance the perception of his readers.” ―Harold Bloom
“A poetry critic and poet himself, David Orr’s work often explores a gray area of literary professionalism and process. A columnist for the New York Times Book Review… Orr shows himself to be a reader interested in cutting through noise, particularly with the realities of writing and publishing in a popular culture.” ―Ploughshares
“David Orr is the poetry critic for The New York Times, and he’s on a mission to bring readers back to this under-appreciated art form.” —NPR
“[O]ne of the more influential voices on poetry currently inhabiting this planet … He has become an unofficial if broadly recognized spokesman for poetry itself… [A]s Orr says in his impossible book, if you write something interesting, if you write something difficult to forget, then it is enough.” ―Morgan Meis, The Smart Set
“David Orr knows how to get that rare thing for poetry: public attention.” ―Daniel D’Addario, New York Observer