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The Ghosts of You & Me

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Plainspoken portraits of hardscrabble Maine men and women join laconic, trustworthy meditations on middle age, old age, mourning and love in this sixth outing from the underrated McNair (Fire, 2002). The volume opens with anecdotes and memories of nearly wasted lives: disappointed farmhands, hired men, residents of "the trailer on the way/ to the dump" and refugees from the "innocent" 1950s, as in the very quotable poem that explains "how the first/ black and white TVs made their way/ to the homes of the poor, who loved them best." The second half shifts gears, offering elegies and laments for a lost self: the titular ghosts mingle easily with sympathetic living families, and even, in the likely anthology piece "The Man He Turned Into," with the poet's hopes for his own art. McNair's unornamented American speech and his insistent, blue-collar sincerity recall Philip Levine, but McNair's real precedent lies closer to his Down East home: he is the true heir of Philip Booth, whose quiet lines have long melted New England hearts and won younger poets' warm allegiance, no matter how icy the air outside. (Oct.) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
McNair's sixth collection (after A Place on Water) continues his exploration of a personal New England, the view across the pond at people, ghosts, places, moments, hopes, dreams, and realities. The poet has an appreciation for cinema gangsters ("The cars they stole looked as square/ as the small-town chumps/ who owned them...") and the "quaint lovemaking" of the old movies ("the lovers saving it for the end/ which was called The End, and all/ dressed for it, though everybody knows/ the whole idea is to take your clothes off/ as they do in films today"). He finds cause to celebrate with a "Hymn to the Comb-Over" and remembers "The Last Black and White TV." But it is not just nostalgia-McNair's poems are full of people with lives like his own, like ours, ordinary lives that are incredibly unique and complex. One poem title says it all: "As Long As We Remember Him He Will Never Die." According to McNair, "nothing in the quick/ double-knowing of the pond is ever lost." Good to know. Recommended for contemporary American poetry collections.-Louis McKee, Painted Bride Arts Ctr., Philadelphia Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781567922936
  • Publisher: Godine, David R. Publishers, Inc.
  • Publication date: 2/28/2005
  • Pages: 92
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 8.25 (h) x 0.25 (d)

Table of Contents

My father going away 13
Flight 15
Ray's gift 18
Draw me 20
Seeds 22
Kuhre's farm 24
The boy carrying the flag 28
It 35
Imponderables 36
The sound the dog made 38
To the dog-sitter 41
Hymn to the comb-over 42
The end 43
The gangsters of old movies 45
The 1950s 48
Questions at one o'clock 50
The last black and white TV 51
Visiting Richard 55
The side 56
If you had come 58
As long as we remember him he will never die 60
Mistakes about heaven 63
As if the voices in the background when my mother calls 67
My mother enters heaven 69
The future 75
Stars 77
The man he turned into 79
A dream of Herman 81
The visit 82
The life 84
That nothing 86
As I am 87
My town 89
Love poem 92
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