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That Little Something

3.86  ·  Rating Details ·  224 Ratings  ·  34 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
Hardcover, 96 pages
Published April 7th 2008 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
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Rachel Hope Miranda
Feb 15, 2011 Rachel Hope Miranda rated it it was amazing
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
Jul 03, 2009 Jennn rated it it was ok
Shelves: poetry, 2009
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,
Courtney Johnston
Jul 28, 2012 Courtney Johnston rated it liked it
Shelves: borrowed, poetry
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
Eric Hinkle
Sep 17, 2014 Eric Hinkle rated it liked it
Sad to say, these poems rarely connected with me. There were some gems, full of nice imagery and great choice of words, but the great ones were few and far between for me. Sometimes I found myself wondering how much these poems could even mean to him... Granted, the section of war poems certainly contains some passion, but I found those poems somewhat off-putting.

It's his 18th book, and I quite liked his Sixty Poems collection, so I'll be more interested in reading his earlier volumes.
Donald Armfield
Jun 29, 2015 Donald Armfield rated it it was amazing
Shelves: poetry
Another awesome collection from Charles Simic. A few of my overall favorites

-Encyclopedia of Horror
-Dead Reckoning
-Metaphysics Anonymous
-Wonders of the Invisible World

His poem to titled "To The Reader" is a must read "Doubles" has an interesting style that you should also check out. Poetry fans you should be reading this guy.
Aug 02, 2014 Sarah rated it really liked it
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
Aug 20, 2013 Matt Lee Sharp rated it it was ok
Shelves: poetry
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
May 18, 2011 Joan Gelfand rated it really liked it
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
Apr 04, 2008 Colin rated it really liked it
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
Mar 04, 2013 Alice Urchin rated it really liked it
Shelves: owned
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
Apr 21, 2015 Kaya rated it really liked it
Shelves: poetry
Dark, but excellently simple.
Aug 30, 2011 Leonard rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.
Nov 10, 2009 Dustin rated it it was ok
Shelves: poetry
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.
Sep 24, 2009 Judith rated it liked it
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
Jun 16, 2013 Roy Kesey rated it really liked it
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.
May 23, 2008 Amy rated it it was amazing
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.
Jul 27, 2014 Amanda rated it liked it
"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.
May 06, 2008 Lesley rated it really liked it
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.
Dec 21, 2012 Esther rated it liked it
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 liked it
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.
Oct 27, 2012 Nicholas rated it liked it
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.
Jan 17, 2013 Amey rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: poetry
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
Jul 25, 2009 Jordan rated it really liked it
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
Aug 14, 2012 Jose Araguz rated it it was amazing
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
Sep 06, 2013 Seth Pennington rated it it was ok
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 Corman
May 20, 2008 Catherine Corman rated it it was amazing
"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
Jun 16, 2009 Matthew Balliro rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2009
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.
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).
Aug 04, 2008 Staci rated it really liked it
I can only imaginethe things the author saw in his lifetime, but these images are vivid in his work
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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...

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