The Route as Briefed collects prose by Pulitzer Prize winning poet James Tate. It is an amazingly eclectic collection, offering essays, interviews, short-short stories, memoirs, and even a recipe for squirrel brains in black butter. The essays and interviews touch on themes ranging from poetic influences to MFA programs, and from the role of humor in poetry to the nature of regional writing. The fiction selectionsnone more than four pages longare as engaging as their titles, e.g., Despair Ice Cream, Running for Your Life, Dreams of a Robot Dancing Bee, Pie, and A Cloud of Dust. The memoirs include Tate's journal entries during a trip to Spain, and a long piece on the father he never met, killed in action during World War II.
In typical Tate style, the book continually straddles the line between fiction and autobiography, entertaining readers with amusing accounts of the poet's own experiences while drawing on these to narrate the fictional stories as well.
James Tate is Professor of Poetry, University of Massachusetts. He is the author of a number of books of poetry, including Worshipful Company of Fletchers: Poems, 1994; Selected Poems, 1991; Distance from Loved Ones, 1990. He has received several awards for his work, including the Pulitzer Prize for poetry in 1992.