Overview

In his first volume of poetry since his tenure as poet laureate, Charles Simic shows he is at the height of his poetic powers. These new poems mine the rich strain of inscrutability in ordinary life, until it is hard to know what is innocent and what ominous. There is something about his work that continues to be crystal clear and yet deeply weighted with violence and mystery. Reading it is like going undercover. The face of a girl carrying a white dress from the cleaners with her eyes half-closed. The Adam &...

See more details below
Master of Disguises

Available on NOOK devices and apps  
  • NOOK Devices
  • Samsung Galaxy Tab 4 NOOK
  • NOOK HD/HD+ Tablet
  • NOOK
  • NOOK Color
  • NOOK Tablet
  • Tablet/Phone
  • NOOK for Windows 8 Tablet
  • NOOK for iOS
  • NOOK for Android
  • NOOK Kids for iPad
  • PC/Mac
  • NOOK for Windows 8
  • NOOK for PC
  • NOOK for Mac
  • NOOK for Web

Want a NOOK? Explore Now

NOOK Book (eBook)
$10.49
BN.com price
(Save 30%)$14.99 List Price

Overview

In his first volume of poetry since his tenure as poet laureate, Charles Simic shows he is at the height of his poetic powers. These new poems mine the rich strain of inscrutability in ordinary life, until it is hard to know what is innocent and what ominous. There is something about his work that continues to be crystal clear and yet deeply weighted with violence and mystery. Reading it is like going undercover. The face of a girl carrying a white dress from the cleaners with her eyes half-closed. The Adam & Evie Tanning Salon at night. A sparrow on crutches. A rubber duck in a shooting gallery on a Sunday morning. And someone in a tree swing, too old to be swinging and to be wearing no clothes at all, blowing a toy trumpet at the sky.

Read More Show Less

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
This 20th collection from the former U.S. poet laureate (My Noiseless Entourage) departs only by degrees from his poems of earlier decades--but it could just be his best book. Like most of Simic's work, these new poems end up short and sad, setting mysterious, wry, even Kafkaesque, scenes in which nobody gets what anyone wants: "A dark little country store full of gravediggers' children buying candy./ (That's how we looked that night.)" Simic served as laureate in the last years of the Bush administration, and some of his new poems may reflect that experience: they attack, with a pessimistic asperity, callous military officers, bloodthirsty states and unnecessary wars, along with a weary or cynical America: "the TV is on in the living room,/ Canned laughter in the empty house/ Like the sound of beer cans tied to a coffin." Simic alludes quietly to the war-ravaged Serbia he fled as a child. But the "ragged puppets" who populate Simic's stanzas are not always so foredoomed: in an 11-part sequence called "The Invisible," Simic modulates into a restrained and deeply moving lyric lament, admiring a dragonfly for his clear wings, a crow who was once "a professor of philosophy," and a "Bird comforting the afflicted/ With your song." (Oct.)
From the Publisher
"This 20th collection from the former U.S. poet laureate (My Noiseless Entourage) departs only by degrees from his poems of earlier decades—but it could just be his best book." —Publishers Weekly, STARRED review
Library Journal
Simic (Night Picnic), the prolific Serbian American author and winner of numerous awards, here confirms that he is still the poet of overlooked details and everyday objects. In many of Simic's poems, an event seemingly needs to be elucidated. And in his skilled collaging and juxtaposition of unrelated images, the poet acts as assembler of tiny shards of unfinished story. War, and particularly the poet's childhood memories of it, breathes throughout and is felt in the background as a sole narrator or a mere whisperer of its passage: " Nothing ever happens here/ except for these foreign wars/ that maim the young boys/ and leave their golden girls/ to hustle drinks in local dives." Simic's plain yet elusive language is freighted with a rich web of references ranging from folktales, myths, and fables to historical and autobiographical asides. He mixes humor with seriousness and deploys comedy in the bitterest of situations to create the sense of detachment needed to write sharp-eyed poetry. In the end, his voice echoes the Romantic dream of reconciling poetic language with everyday speech. His forwardness and the exact treatment of his objects are reminiscent of the works of William Carlos Williams. VERDICT As always, Simic brings to light the richness of life's objects and thus embraces a vital task of poetry. Recommended for all readers.—Sadiq Alkoriji, South Regional Lib., Broward Cty., FL
Read More Show Less

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780547504537
  • Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
  • Publication date: 10/6/2010
  • Sold by: Barnes & Noble
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 96
  • Sales rank: 864,635
  • File size: 104 KB

Meet the Author

CHARLES SIMIC was born in Belgrade and emigrated to the United States in 1954. He is the author of many books of poetry and prose. Among other honors, he received the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry in 1990 and served as the Poet Laureate of the United States in 2007–2008.

Read More Show Less

Read an Excerpt

The Invisible One

You read today about a child
Kept for years in a closet
By his crazy parents
On a street you walked often.

Busy with your own troubles,
You saw little, heard nothing
Of what was said around you,
As you made your way home

Past loving young couples
Carrying flowers and groceries,
Pushing baby carriages,
Hanging back to scold a dog.

 

Master of Disguises

Surely, he walks among us unrecognized:
Some barber, store clerk, delivery man,
Pharmacist, hairdresser, bodybuilder,
Exotic dancer, gem cutter, dog walker,
The blind beggar singing, O Lord, remember me,

Some window decorator starting a fake fire
In a fake fireplace while mother and father watch
From the couch with their frozen smiles
As the street empties and the time comes
For the undertaker and the last waiter to head home.

O homeless old man, standing in a doorway
With your face half hidden,
I wouldn't even rule out the black cat crossing the street,
The bare light bulb swinging on a wire
In a subway tunnel as the train comes to a stop.

 

Nineteen Thirty-eight

That was the year the Nazis marched into Vienna,
Superman made his debut in Action Comics,
Stalin was killing off his fellow revolutionaries,
The first Dairy Queen opened in Kankakee, Ill.,
As I lay in my crib peeing in my diapers.

"You must've been a beautiful baby," Bing Crosby sang.
A pilot the newspapers called Wrong Way Corrigan
Took off from New York heading for California
And landed instead in Ireland, as I watched my mother
Take a breast out of her blue robe and come closer.

There was a hurricane that September causing a movie theater
At Westhampton Beach to be lifted out to sea.
People worried the world was about to end.
A fish believed to have been extinct for seventy million years
Came up in a fishing net off the coast of South Africa.

I lay in my crib as the days got shorter and colder,
And the first heavy snow fell in the night
Making everything very quiet in my room.
I thought I heard myself cry for a long, long time.

 

Scenes of the Old Life

Washing hung from the fire escapes.
Boys threw cats from rooftops.
War veterans hopped on crutches,
Pitching pennies and smoking reefers.

Writers destined to remain obscure
Wrote late into the night
Using a pencil and the kind of notebook
Their children took to school in the morning.

Outside a club advertising exotic dancing girls,
A man in a crumpled white suit
Staggered with a knife in his heart,
One dark eyebrow raised in surprise.

In winter, rain fell as if it meant to fall forever.
We kept the gas oven lit to warm ourselves,
While mother cried and cried chopping onions
And my one goldfish swam in a pickle jar.


 

Read More Show Less

Table of Contents

I

The Invisible One 3

Master of Disguises 4

Nineteen Thirty-eight 5

Scenes of Old Life 6

The Elusive Something 7

Blind Man Feeding Pigeons 8

Preachers Warn 9

Worriers Anonymous 10

Scribbled in the Dark 11

Old Man 12

Among the Exiles 13

Wildflowers 14

Dogs Pity Their Masters 15

Nancy Jane 16

At Adam and Evie Tanning Salon 17

Dark is the Night 18

II

Old Soldier 21

Carrying On Like a Crow 22

The Absent One 23

Driving Home 24

The Sparrow 25

Same-as-Ever 26

Father in Heaven 27

Sightseeing in the Capital 28

Daughters of Memory 29

Private Miseries 30

The End of the Parade 31

Our Salvation 32

Solitude 33

In That Big House 34

Puppet Maker 35

Sad as a Ship in a Bottle 36

Graveside Oration 37

III

Streets Paved with Gold 41

Darkened Chessboard 42

Double Feature 43

The Boardwalks are Deserted 44

Little Boat, Take Care 45

Dead Season 46

Summer Storm 47

The Melon 48

The Lovers 49

Bright and Early 50

The Empress 51

In My Long Night 52

Trees in the Yard 53

The Toad 54

Summer Light 55

The Tree No One Visits 56

Keep This to Yourself 57

IV

The Invisible 61

V

And Who Are You, Sir? 75

Read More Show Less

Customer Reviews

Be the first to write a review
( 0 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(0)

4 Star

(0)

3 Star

(0)

2 Star

(0)

1 Star

(0)

Your Rating:

Your Name: Create a Pen Name or

Barnes & Noble.com Review Rules

Our reader reviews allow you to share your comments on titles you liked, or didn't, with others. By submitting an online review, you are representing to Barnes & Noble.com that all information contained in your review is original and accurate in all respects, and that the submission of such content by you and the posting of such content by Barnes & Noble.com does not and will not violate the rights of any third party. Please follow the rules below to help ensure that your review can be posted.

Reviews by Our Customers Under the Age of 13

We highly value and respect everyone's opinion concerning the titles we offer. However, we cannot allow persons under the age of 13 to have accounts at BN.com or to post customer reviews. Please see our Terms of Use for more details.

What to exclude from your review:

Please do not write about reviews, commentary, or information posted on the product page. If you see any errors in the information on the product page, please send us an email.

Reviews should not contain any of the following:

  • - HTML tags, profanity, obscenities, vulgarities, or comments that defame anyone
  • - Time-sensitive information such as tour dates, signings, lectures, etc.
  • - Single-word reviews. Other people will read your review to discover why you liked or didn't like the title. Be descriptive.
  • - Comments focusing on the author or that may ruin the ending for others
  • - Phone numbers, addresses, URLs
  • - Pricing and availability information or alternative ordering information
  • - Advertisements or commercial solicitation

Reminder:

  • - By submitting a review, you grant to Barnes & Noble.com and its sublicensees the royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable right and license to use the review in accordance with the Barnes & Noble.com Terms of Use.
  • - Barnes & Noble.com reserves the right not to post any review -- particularly those that do not follow the terms and conditions of these Rules. Barnes & Noble.com also reserves the right to remove any review at any time without notice.
  • - See Terms of Use for other conditions and disclaimers.
Search for Products You'd Like to Recommend

Recommend other products that relate to your review. Just search for them below and share!

Create a Pen Name

Your Pen Name is your unique identity on BN.com. It will appear on the reviews you write and other website activities. Your Pen Name cannot be edited, changed or deleted once submitted.

 
Your Pen Name can be any combination of alphanumeric characters (plus - and _), and must be at least two characters long.

Continue Anonymously

    If you find inappropriate content, please report it to Barnes & Noble
    Why is this product inappropriate?
    Comments (optional)