How to Save the Children

How to Save the Children

by Amy Hatkoff, Karen K. Klopp

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Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Simic's ( The Book of Gods and Devils ) latest volume has the surrealistic clarity sometimes achieved by the sleepless. In the small hours, a drastic simplification takes place by which the infinite particulars of the world seem to point to a mere handful of meanings. Suddenly ``Everything is a magic ritual, / A secret cinema.'' But while the resulting combinations are varied, ingenious and fascinating--``The city, that winter evening, / Like an opera house on fire--the symbolically charged atmosphere ultimately becomes oppressive and horrifying: ``The high leaves like my mother's lips / Forever trembling, unable to decide, / For there's a bit of wind, / And it's like hearing voices, / Or a mouth full of muffled laughter, / A huge dark mouth we can all fit in / Suddenly covered by a hand.'' The style and the subject matter show Simic's East European roots and influences. Biography is not a story waiting to be told, but a labyrinth, ``the infinite number of lines / That join to me things and beings, / so that a diagram / Of any moment in my life / Looks like a child's scribble.'' Some will inevitably reject Simic's heavily symbolic nocturnal world, but a strange and remarkable journey awaits those who are willing to accept his unusual invitation: ``Sleeplessness is like metaphysics. Be there.'' (Nov.)

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