The Book of Fables

The Book of Fables

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by W. S. Merwin
     
 

“Metaphors, puns, surrealist visions, converted into sharp, disturbing little narratives . . . only a poet, and a good one, could have written it.”—The Atlantic Monthly

W.S. Merwin’s acclaimed short prose—many of which first appeared in The New Yorker—blur the distinction between fiction, poetry, essay, and memoir

Overview

“Metaphors, puns, surrealist visions, converted into sharp, disturbing little narratives . . . only a poet, and a good one, could have written it.”—The Atlantic Monthly

W.S. Merwin’s acclaimed short prose—many of which first appeared in The New Yorker—blur the distinction between fiction, poetry, essay, and memoir. Reminiscent of Kafka, Borges, and Beckett, they evoke mythical patterns and unlikely adventures and raise questions about art, reality, and meaning. As the Saturday Review remarked, they have “astonishing range and power.”

The Book of Fables is an affordable paperback of all the short prose from two out-of-print collections, The Miner’s Pale Children and Houses and Travellers. The pieces run from a single sentence to a dozen pages and create a poetic landscape both severe and sensuous.

From “A Garden”:

You are a garden into which a bomb once fell and did not explode, during a war that happened before you can remember. It came down at night. It screamed, but there were so many screams. It was heard, but it was forgotten. It buried itself. It was searched for but it was given up. So much else had been buried alive . . .

Poet and translator W.S. Merwin has long been committed to artistic, political, and environmental causes in both word and deed. He has received nearly every major literary accolade, including the 2005 National Book Award in Poetry for Migration. Merwin lives in Hawaii, where he cultivates endangered palms.

Editorial Reviews

Michael Dirda
Despite the imagination and astonishing variety revealed in these pieces, Merwin's style tends to remain singularly even and unchanging -- a formal tone, somewhat abstract, with a penchant for striking declarative sentences, situations more perplexing than playful, and stark, emblematic characters.
— The Washington Post
Library Journal

Since his earliest writing, Pulitzer Prize winner Merwin's poems have been built upon imagery, often a pileup of what Lorca called the duendeand Robert Bly defined as the deep image. Given the leaps from line to line in these poems, the transition to brief prose pieces seemed a natural and welcome diversion. This volume includes everything from two o.p. collections-The Miner's Pale Children(1969) and House and Travelers(1977)-as well as new pieces, ranging from a paragraph to 13 pages. "The true present is the place where only one can stand, who is standing there for the first time," he says in one of the later pieces here. And this sense of self and other, with the speaker either part of a primitive collective mythology or a detached observer, pervades. Despite an underlying current of fear and doom, the surreal landscape is accepted without struggle. The two volumes published here appeared before the recent prose poem and flash fiction movements became fashionable in American literature, but Merwin's writing adds another dimension to both genres.
—Rochelle Ratner

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781556592560
Publisher:
Copper Canyon Press
Publication date:
07/01/2007
Pages:
400
Sales rank:
856,695
Product dimensions:
6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 1.00(d)

Related Subjects

Meet the Author

W.S. Merwin is one of America's leading poets. His prizes include the 2005 National Book Award for his collected poems, Migration, the Pulitzer Prize, the Stevens Award, and fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation and Lannan Foundation. He is the author of dozens of books of poetry and translations. He lives in Hawaii, where he cultivates endangered palm trees.

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The Book of Fables 3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
BookWorldBabe More than 1 year ago
W.S. Merwin definitely delivers, as this is one of his most beautiful, poignant, and impressive collections. The works are so stunning, and many draw heavily on history to express modern emotions and events. My two favorites are The Lost Tribe and The New World. My only problem was that the book itself is not a 'nice' book to hold or read; it's a little too big, stiff, and glossy to really be comfortable for a reader.