Sleeping it Off in Rapid City
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Sleeping it Off in Rapid City

3.95 of 5 stars 3.95  ·  rating details  ·  92 ratings  ·  17 reviews
The first broad retrospective of August Kleinzahler’s career, Sleeping It Off in Rapid City gathers poems from his major works along with a rich portion of new poems that visit different voice registers, experiment with form and length, and confirm Kleinzahler as among the most inventive and brilliant poets of our time. Travel—actual and imaginary—remains a passion and ins...more
Hardcover, 256 pages
Published April 1st 2008 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux
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Tim Lepczyk
Some of these poems were tough, muscular, edgy pieces of prose that define images and ideas concretely. For me, those were the more enjoyable poems. They had a sense of realism and compactness and stayed with you.

The other poems were a little more sprawling and rambling. Ideas were bound up in language that floated somewhere beyond the reader. After reading some of these poems I was left with a thought of so what? What can I take away from this?

Part of this might stem from the fact that this is...more
Dan Butterfass
Kleinzahler is that rare breed of poet whose blend of craft and "fire" is seamless. His poems combust with the heat and irrational inner glow of their original conception, while threading the eye of the needle of technique and craft. His work is all fire and ice. This work is incantatory, erudite, clear and complex at the same time. He's a language star whose loose, five-martinis later flair for the language amplifies and rarifies rather than obscuficates (e.g. Ashberry) or diminishes (e.g. Jame...more
Apr 24, 2008 Ms. marked it as to-read
Ultimately Mr. Kleinzahler boiled his case against Mr. Keillor down to these three-and-a-half sentences: “Multivitamins are good for you. Exercise, fresh air, and sex are good for you. Fruit and vegetables are good for you. Poetry is not.”

It makes a certain kind of sense, then, that Mr. Kleinzahler’s career-spanning new book of poems, “Sleeping It Off in Rapid City,” features on its cover a nighttime photograph of a White Castle hamburger franchise. Like White Castle’s pint-size hamburgers, Mr....more
Aug 11, 2008 Mark rated it 4 of 5 stars
Shelves: poetry

August Kleinzahler has great descriptive power as a poet. I can't say these collected poems left me with wondrous insights, but they did create a sense of beauty, often tinged with sadness, that was remarkably vivid.

If there is a theme to these poems, it is one of travel and displacement, occasionally anchored by his return trips to his New Jersey roots. He is at his best when he speaks economically, as in "Storm Over Hackensack."

This angry bruise about to burst
on City Hall
will spend itself fast...more
Favorite poems:

Retard Spoilage
Orientation Weekend
Before Dawn on Bluff Road
This has replaced the now run-out subscription to the Int'l Herald Trib for breakfast reading, and no loss when you think about it. Taking poetry in bits is healthy and wise, and these are as contemporary as today's news. Maybe I'll go back to Heaney when finished with this, if I ever am. Or Yeats again, or...? Poetry in the morning, a Decameron tale or 2 in the evening, work of various sorts between, not a bad life, after all.
Joseph E. Lerner
August Kleinzahler has been writing poetry for a long time, and he keeps getting better. This volume is a retrospective of sorts, but includes much new work as well. How to describe Kleinzahler? He has his roots in Beat poetry, but he's gone far beyond such influences. His writing always feels fresh, original, inventive, and unexpected, thoroughly American in sensibility but international in scope. Highly recommended.
Heavy. Some were funny - some were great. I would like to have had a machete to get through many. I especially liked sections II III and V. Toys was good in IV. I liked Traveler's Tails: Chapter 13. The beginning seemed to imply great questions about modernity, ease...The moderator's question "what is the function of art in society?" - I guess...diversify our "Social democracy".
Jan 13, 2014 Deb rated it 4 of 5 stars
Shelves: poetry
Poetry cannot be read linearly. Sometimes, you start out that way, only to discover that it is more fun--and more representative of the poet's work--to jump around. I did that here, and earned a wonderful introduction to the work of a man who pulls no punches, and yet has a surprisingly delicate lyricism to his work. I will read this again. Recommended.
Damn - this guy is good. Any poet that puts a White Castle photo on his cover is worth reading! Tough poems, a little bit of asphalt and some dogwood blossoms, dying friends and lovers - all types. But more than what they are about, his language is excellent and interesting.
National Book Critics Circle
See NBCC Board Member Kevin Prufer's review at Critical Mass, as part of 30 Books in 30 Days:
beautiful poems, not all flowery.
precise, realistic, and concise descriptions of places, atmospheres, faces, bodies, experiences.
(least poetic description/review ever.)
Robert Paglia
Has a tremendous command of language. Can be needlessly crude at times, but I enjoy his blend of sophisticated vocabulary and musicality with down to earth subject matter.
May 06, 2008 Ian rated it 2 of 5 stars
Shelves: poetry
I'll probably finish this book at some point. But right now I'm not patient enough to wade through his clever, detached irony to find the one good poem in 10.
Mar 20, 2011 !Tæmbuŝu marked it as to-read
Shelves: poetry
Reviewed by The Guardian
Paul Wilner
Jul 20, 2008 Paul Wilner rated it 5 of 5 stars Recommends it for: You
Recommended to Paul by: A friend/editor
Fantastic it!
Nov 18, 2008 David is currently reading it
great, dense, lyrical poetry.
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August Kleinzahler was born in Jersey City in 1949. He is the author of eleven books of poems and a memoir, "Cutty, One Rock." His collection "The Strange Hours Travelers Keep" was awarded the 2004 Griffin Poetry Prize, and "Sleeping It Off in Rapid City" won the 2008 National Book Critics Circle Award. That same year he received a Lannan Literary Award. His new collection, "The Hotel Oneira," wil...more
More about August Kleinzahler...
Cutty, One Rock: Low Characters and Strange Places, Gently Explained The Strange Hours Travelers Keep: Poems Green Sees Things in Waves: Poems Red Sauce, Whiskey and Snow: Poems Live from the Hong Kong Nile Club: Poems: 1975-1990

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