In today's Times, Dwight Garner reviews August Kleinzahler's new collection of poetry, Sleeping it Off in Rapid City. I don't read poetry, and I rarely read reviews of poetry, but I've liked some of what Dwight Garner has written at Paper Cuts (a blog that hasn't been as good after it added other contributors). I read his review and found some great stuff:
It makes a certain kind of sense, then, that Mr. Kleinzahler’s career-spanning new book of poems, “Sleeping It Off in Rapid City,” features on its cover a nighttime photograph of a White Castle hamburger franchise. Like White Castle’s pint-size hamburgers, Mr. Kleinzahler’s poems are of uncertain if not dubious nutritional value. And while there is nothing made-to-order about them, his poems arrive salty and hot; you’ll want to devour them on your lap, with a stack of napkins to mop up the grease.
But then Garner lessened my appreciation with this:
It’s easy to troll through any of Mr. Kleinzahler’s books and pick out fresh, alert observations. (Flipping almost at random through this one I find: “Say, who among us does not care to be undressed?” and “If butter can’t cure what ails you,/no cure is there to be found.”)
Um, what? How are those two examples alert observations? What the hell do they mean?
Those two examples are senseless and impossible to understand: The reason I wouldn't bother with this poetry collection.