That Little Something
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That Little Something

3.88 of 5 stars 3.88  ·  rating details  ·  184 ratings  ·  31 reviews
In his eighteenth collection, Charles Simic, the superb poet of the vaguely ominous sound and the disturbing, potentially significant image, moves closer to the dark heart of history and human behavior.

Simic understands the strange interplay between ordinary life and extremes, between reality and imagination, and he writes with absolute purity about those contradictory but...more
Hardcover, 96 pages
Published April 7th 2008 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
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Rachel Hope Miranda
Simic, Charles. That Little Something. 1st. New York: Mariner Books, 2008. Print.

Charles Simic writes with a passion; he writes of dark irony, and purity in emotion, contradiction and human life. Simic’s eighteenth poem collection That Little Something digs into the human experience with passion and nonchalance that is fresh to the poetic world. At Simic’s best, he incorporates words and ideas in such accuracy and depth that to take a step back from his work creates a new and vivid understandin...more
Jennn
Unfortunately I didn’t enjoy this book as much as I thought I would when I was thumbing through it. The length of each poem is good and it reads easy enough, but the gems for me were few and far between. It felt like there were boundaries around each poem and even though he would sometimes stick a toe out, he would remain inside where it was safe and publishable. That is, he’s a good poet and I could see how he would fit right into the writing community, but to me, that’s not enough. I like to s...more
Robert Beveridge
Charles Simic, That Little Something (Harcourt, 2008)

Charles Simic is stepping down from the post of Poet Laureate a year early because, he says, being Poet Laureate keeps him away from doing what he loves best-- writing poetry. And honestly, as much as I like seeing Simic, unarguably one of America's best living poets, in such a position, anything that gets him to be more prolific is perfectly fine with me.

I have to say that Simic's distraction is noticeable in some of these poems, but really,...more
Courtney Johnston
Where 'Frightening Toys' crept into me, 'That Little Something' slipped by me. When they hit me, Simic's poems have an x-ray-like precision (that is, a kind of powerful observation that is still mysterious around the edges) - yesterday, the focus was lacking. The fault is mine as the reader, not Simic's as a writer.

Having said that, one or two still slipped through. 'Impersonator of Blank Walls' reminds me so strongly of two boys - men, I guess - that I know. I could imagine both of them telling...more
Sarah
Quite a few poems were great and I loved them, yet I don't feel that this collection was memorable as a whole and I probably won't be reading it again, personally. However, Simic summed up the little things in life well, even if there were a decent amount of poems that didn't describe little things, but big things in a little way; this bugged me while I was in a good mood, irritated when I wasn't. This was the purpose, turns out, but I don't like how the two contrasted. I wanted either one or th...more
Matt Lee Sharp
I was tremendously disappointed in this book. Simic is a writer who I keep making notes to myself to read. All of his work that I have seen anthologized or in magazines has really struck and stuck with me, but this collection had none of that. By the end of the book, just about every poem felt like it was dwelling on the whole idea of writing being a conversation "Late Night Chat" and "To the Reader" I found particularly offputting in this regard. Every subject seemed so tame. All of the sex was...more
Joan Gelfand
I read Simic in the New Yorker, and wherever he turns up in magazines, but this was the first collection that I bought. I love it. Simic is inventive, deep, possesses a moving historical context/world view, and is very, very accessible.

Now, here's the magic of poetry collections and why all serious readers should own a good sized shelf of them: Last night, when I learned that a dear friend was diagnosed w/stage 3 cancer, I needed a good, deep poem. I picked up this book and turned to "Summer Da...more
Colin
This was my first full-book experience with Charles Simic. I'm not sure I can adequately sum it up at this point. The qualities I'll mention at the moment are: an atmospheric sense of darkness, religious imagery and references, the reappearance of words and images throughout the collection, and an interesting sense of the "eternal" in every-day moments. Simic returns to the word "eternity" several times during the first three parts, and then Part Four is devoted to several short pieces under the...more
Alice Urchin
An excellent collection of poetry, though I've read/heard from others that this isn't one of his best collections.
I thought that the third section was particularly good. My favorites were: "That Little Something," "Night Clerk in a Roach Motel," "Doubles," "To Laziness," "Listen," "The Lights are on Everywhere," "Memories of the Future," "Madmen are Running the World," Late-night Chat," "Clouds," "Metaphysics Anonymous," "High Windows," "Wire Hangers," "Secret History," "Labor and Capital," "Th...more
Leonard
Simic may be my favorite poet. I've never read any of his books just once. This is the first time for this book but I'll be back to it again. There's a delicious mystery to his poems, a nostalgic feeling, a question never to be answered, and a humanness not found in most other poetry. This is his nineteenth collection and given a little time I plan to read all of them.
Dustin
Liked it...didn't love it. The abstractions created by most of the poems in this book seem like they were for insiders. I enjoy thinking that poem (like songs) create their own personal meanings inside each reader, but there was no connection for me in Simic's writing. Re-reading the same line to try and understand the point was not a labor of love.
Judith
I love to discover poets that I never heard of, only to learn that they are Pulitzer Prize winners and poet laureates of the USA, especially when I also like their poetry. Charles Simic is such a discovery for me. I didn't like all the poems, but it takes only a few to inspire awe and gratitude.
I will read more of his collections.
Roy Kesey
The first two-thirds is more of that excellent thing Simic does so well—simplified weirdness wedded to high insight. Poem after poem of this. Then it started to thin out a little, and by the fourth section I was getting few of my favorite flavors. To be clear, though: middle-drawer Simic would go in almost anyone else's top drawer.
Amy
This book is amazing in how it manages to fit so much into such small poems. Favorites: "Death's Book of Jokes," "The Great Disappearing Act," "Encyclopedia of Horrors," "Those Who Clean After," "In the Junk Store," "Metaphysics Anonymous," and so many others. But especially the title poem, which is for Li-Young Lee.
Amanda
"One afternoon, you skipped school / To go for a swim in the river." That is the best moment of this book, in my opinion. There were a few other poems like this one (The Great Disappearing Act), moving and great, but not enough for me to give this book a higher rating.
Lesley
May 06, 2008 Lesley rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: poetry buffs
Interesting new poems from Simic. Tightly drawn, as usual, but seems like a slightly different narrative voice for him. Really loved "dramatic evenings", "house of cards", "encyclopedia of horror", and "in the junk store". Great, huge, tiny stories.
Esther
Never heard of Simic or that the US has a poet laureate I'm afraid to say. Picked this up on sale in a bookstore, intrigued after a browse. Few poets have been as influential - says the NYT blurb on the back cover. Well thats me told then. Good poems.
Lisha Adela
Mar 15, 2009 Lisha Adela rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: poets exploring their voice
Recommended to Lisha Adela by: ASU- Piper Center
This book is a puzzle as it lacks the epiphany's that make poetry meaningful to me. Perhaps I lack the ivy league sensibility to understand the surrealistic tableaus. I can appreciate what I read but am not enamored.
Nicholas
Some of the poems felt like Simic had started with one idea and shifted partway through to something else, without planning it or connecting the two. However, the whole last section, "Eternities", was wonderful.
Amey
In the Junk Store

A small, straw basket
Full of medals
From good old wars
No one recalls.

I flipped one over
To feel the pin
That once pierced
The hero's swelling chest.

~ from the book
Jordan
Simic's ability to open worlds with simple lines is amazing. So many of the heirs of surrealism seems to strain toward the marvelous; Simic, however, joins dream and reality with ease.
Jose Araguz
Simic is a king! Seriously, I read "Wire Hangers" the first time and found myself cursing under my breath, jealous that he had written the poem first. A great collection.
Seth Pennington
Read this and was utterly disappointed as this was my first full-length from Simic. However, going back and reading his earlier triumphs have been very rewarding.
Catherine
"I come to you like one
Who is dying of love,"
God said to Christine Ebner
On this dull, sultry night.

-Charles Simic, "Eternities"
Matthew Balliro
This is a good book of poems, but not great. The last of the whole lot is probably the best one. Standard fair for Charlie.
Alexander
Feb 12, 2008 Alexander marked it as to-read
I am waiting anxiously for Simic's newest collection of poetry, due out in april (i think).
Staci
I can only imaginethe things the author saw in his lifetime, but these images are vivid in his work
Niño Manaog
Check out some kinship with Billy Collins.
Jamison
If this was my first reading of a book by Simic I'd have given it four stars, there are some truly well crafted poems in here. Unfortunately, I've read enough of his books to have grown sick of words like eternity and invisible that give an occult feel to poor-house culture.

My favorite poem in this entire book is also the only prose poem in it; in "Late-Night Chat" he breaks his form in a really exciting way only to immediately return to what he's comfortable with and great at. But it's like an...more
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Charles Simic (born Dušan Simić) is a Serbian-American poet and the 15th Poet Laureate of the United States. He is co-Poetry Editor of the Paris Review. Simic is the 2007 recipient of the Wallace Stevens Award from the Academy of American Poets. This $100,000 (US) prize recognizes outstanding and proven mastery in the art of poetry.
More about Charles Simic...
The World Doesn't End The Voice at 3:00 A.M.: Selected Late and New Poems Walking the Black Cat Hotel Insomnia Sixty Poems

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