The Book of Men
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The Book of Men

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4.23 of 5 stars 4.23  ·  rating details  ·  224 ratings  ·  40 reviews

"Laux writes gritty, tough, lyrical poems that depict the actual nature of life in the West today."�Philip Levine

The narrative poems in Dorianne Laux's fifth collection charge through the summer of love, where Vietnam casts a long shadow, and into the present day, where she compassionately paints the smoky bars, graffiti, and addiction of urban life. Laux is "continuall...more
Hardcover, 96 pages
Published February 28th 2011 by W. W. Norton & Company
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Dorianne Laux
Nov 20, 2010 Dorianne Laux rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  (Review from the author)
At the emergency room, I read The Book of Men, then hand it to my wife, who is wired to a couple of machines. She says, Oh my, these are wonderful, and I agree and think, yes, these are poems for the people of planet Earth, for those who wait tables in Juneau, Alaska in order to buy a bed, who go off to war in place of those who send them, for whom gold is the “color of mold in the broken refrigerator” rather than a smart investment, and for whom language crafted to speak truly and memorably of...more
Shawn Sorensen
Laux is all-her-own grounded and open. There is no one better to write about hot, sweaty nights with men than Dorianne Laux.

Laux's book mainly communes with our insecurities about death. Our fear of the unknown is to startle awake under a deep swath of night after the steam of lovemaking has dissipated and the liquid remnants dimly shine in its bed. Like the cover - I noticed the tighty-whitey underwear after carrying the book around for a couple months - each poem's sound builds on itself, the...more
Zinta
Mushrooms and stamens and pollinating bees, all bursting from a man’s briefs … this new collection of poetry by Dorianne Laux, The Book of Men, coming out in February 2011, is as seductive and enticing a literary treat as one has come to expect from one of America’s most delicious poets. If a treatise on boys and men, men on their own, men in the poet’s life, men observed at a distance, men in the moon, then it is also very much a collection for women and by one.

Enter Sergeant Metz, first poem,...more
James Murphy
The first half of The Book of Men is exactly that, a series of poems about men of all kinds, from the itinerant to the wealthy, bohemian to the iconic suburbanite. Some are well-known, like Mick Jagger and Superman. Others, like the poet Philip Levine, aren't so famous. Some are general portraits, like the film noir detective.

More subtly, the 2d half seems to be about women, especially mothers. Mothers, breasts, children recur here. There's even a poen entitled "Mother's Day," along with others...more
Nina
The Book of Men is a delightful collection of funny, whimsical, insightful, honest poems. Laux pays homage to many cultural icons, including Bob Dylan, Mick Jagger, and Cher. "The Beatles" starts with Laux saying she "Never really understood why The Beatles/ broke up". She talks about Superman smoking pot as he sits on a tall building. In "Learning to Drive", Laux takes an ordinary right-of-passage and turns it into something magical. The reality of seeing an aging parent try to negotiate Costco...more
Patricia
Laux is one of my favorite poets. The narrative poems in this collection read like a reminisence of my young adulthood as she considers topics like Viet Nam, the Beatles, and Bob Dylan. But it's her treatment of the more mundane that truly rocks my poetic heart, poems like "The Treatment of Backs" and "Antilementation." The latter actually helped explained why I'm finishing a poorly written biography of Bill Clinton. "Regret nothing," writes Laux, "Not the cruel novels you read to the end just t...more
Jane
Dorianne Laux arrived on the poetry radar already spectacularly good, and one of the great pleasures of reading her books over the years has been seeing how she has kept her core strengths (work whose keel is powerful emotional truth, whose sails' canvas is woven of precise description, amazing metaphors, the just-right heat of word-choice) and gone on to expand them as well, into increasingly ranging subjects and explorations. Each successive book brings its own new flavors; every one of them h...more
Katie
I wrote one poem and started two others while I read this book over the course of a couple of hours. The compliment to Dorianne Laux inherent to that is this: She made me pay attention. She made me remember that every single thing has earned a poem, if someone wants to write it one. The poems in this collection are narrative in nature, and are not so much glittery as they are dusty, which I also mean as a compliment. Laux writes lived-in poems, about the past, the summer, cars, sex, the horses a...more
Craig
(Read as 2.5 stars - she gets the extra half star because of how much I loved What We Carry.....)

Reading the reviews here, I definitely feel like I missed something in this collection.

After how much I loved the last book of hers that I read, I feel like I am missing something even moreso.

Perhaps I should have read The Book of Women first?

Perhaps I wasn't in the right state of mind.

It just felt a bit flat for me. More like writing exercises than writing.

That is more harsh sounding than I mean it...more
Collin Kelley
From a modern soldier off to war and a boyfriend who taught her how to drive to Mick Jagger and Superman, Laux's fantastic collection reveals men as human and mortal. The poems are playful, sultry, sexy and also elegiac. This is a collection to be read in one sitting, although you'll stop to catch your breath on numerous occasions at Laux's plain-spoken lyricism and finely tuned attention to detail.
John Wyszniewski
Dorianne Laux reveals a potent viewpoint on men in this new collection of poems. She has this remarkable ability to reveal an entire world through one moment, an entire personal history through one encounter or one detail. Her language is bare, stripped of grand literary illusions and metaphors. These poems are incredibly accessible as well and often read as miniature short stories.
Susan
I love Dorianne's work, but this book is not her best. I liked it, but it felt a little too tidy. It doesn't have the heart that her other books have. I'm sorry to have to say this because she's a real favorite of mine. This doesn't mean that I think you shouldn't read the book. There's some wonderful stuff here. For me, it's my least favorite of all her work, and I have all of it!
Audrey
I am no poetry expert, but "Antilamentation" (heard one morning on NPR Writer's Almanac) struck a chord, and I had to read more, so I bought the book in which it resides. Dorianne is very earthy and makes excellent use of metaphor. Really liked.
Cassie
This book has more pink underlines than flesh.

She knows I love her, and that I'm at a creepy, pre-teen, boyband level with her writing. So, what more can I say than she's magic.
Jon Corelis
Lament of the aging Baby-Boomer

The most common charge leveled against contemporary poetry is that it's lost touch with a general public readership, even of educated people. The technically competent, readily accessible poems in this book attempt to establish such a relevance by taking as their subjects for the most part memories of personal experiences and popular culture arising out of the cultural moment loosely referred to as "the Sixties," the coming of age period of the Baby Boomer generati...more
Sally Maria
I have been reluctant to write a review on Laux's collection of poems because I wanted to address the whole collection. But there is one that embedded itself. One that I call people to hear. One that I use as an example to people who "hate" poetry. One that I (as a writer) will forever use as a standard. It is titled Mother's Day.

Laux doesn't write poems that are obscure, poems that intimidate readers. She communicates at the highest levels. The reader not only "gets" the poem, but feels it, exp...more
Liz
The Book of Men reflects "stories" from her life and relationships. She writes from experiences in a natural voice that anyone can understand. I believe one of the most natural reads for me since I started reading poetry. Her feminine viewpoint is quite insightful to the male viewpoint, understanding what most women can't about the male psyche, even experienced women. The book is not all testosterone driven though. She touches on the vietnam war, pop icons like superman, music icons like Cher an...more
Jennifer Hendzlik
The old dog next door won't stop barking
at the moon. My neighbor is keeping a log:
what time, how long, whether howling is involved.
I know he's awake as I am, robe askew,
calling animal control while I drink dark tea
and stare out my window at the voodoo moon,
throwing beads of light into the arms
of the bare-chested trees. Who can blame him...
Andrea Judy
This collection of poems is one of my favorite poetry collections that I've ever read. The pain, beauty, and multifaceted look at life always fills me with joy.
These are poems that feel effortless to read, like the words in my head have just been rearranged on the page and presented back to me. Laux is a true master of her craft.
Clay
I believe I have found a new favorite contemporary poet in Dorianne Laux. I am sure that as I continue to adventure through poetry, I will find other "favorite poets," but Dorianne penetrated my psyche in a way that few poets do. I feel like a lot of poets feel like they have to make their poems inaccessibly to have literary validity, yet Dorianne proves this sentiment utterly false. I would argue that her poems are accessible to nearly everyone and they remain gritty, meaty, very American and a...more
Jeannine
This is my favorite book of Dorianne's in some time, maybe since her first book. The poem "Superman" by itself is worth the cost of admission. Dorianne Laux paints in broader strokes in this book, taking an inventory of important male figures in her life (love interests, pop culture icons, etc) and engaging in some playful critique of the cultural beliefs about men and women. The writing is more confident here and she works with a wider range of tones and voices than in her last book. Buy it!
Kasandra
Excellent on the whole. Full of fresh imagery and real feeling delivered without irony but with plenty of word-play and clever use of language. Though quite a few of these struck me as writing exercises that weren't strong enough/interesting enough to be included, most were very good, and a few took my breath away (Juneau, Lighter, Fourth of July, The Secret of Backs, Foster Child (! WOW), Mother's Day, and The Mysterious Human Heart in New York).
Leonard
Dorianne Laux and Billy Collins are the two poets whose poetry is the most accessible of any poet writing in this country today, and Laux may be the better of the two. Every time I read a new collection of her poems I want to go back and re- read everything she wrote before, because it is that good. Although it's a cliche I'm tempted to say that if you only read one contemporary poet, Dorianne Laux is the one to read.
Heather Mize
I'm a fan of the emotion that Laux captures in her writing. She writes with clarity and precision, yet is able to capture the emotions of nostalgia, melancholy, loss, regret, lust, love, rememberance. There's a little something for everyone in this book. The Title doesn't do the book justice. My favorites are Mother's Day, Middle Name, Foster Child.

My very favorite is Late-Night TV. That entire poem is perfection.
SmarterLilac
There are some genuinely moving pieces in here; I love that Ms. Laux's poems express themselves with as much candor and grace as they always have. I especially like 'Learning to Drive,' which is probably my favorite poem in this book. Its focus is so intense, despite its simple frame, and, as usual, I find Laux's ability to capture the essence of human connection her greatest skill.
Laura
Mick Jagger: "he's a hybrid/ of stamina and slouch."

Cher's "voice/ of gravel and clover."

From Juneau, "the geography of the world outside my window/ was breaking and falling and changing shape. And I woke to it and looked at it and didn't speak."

Roots - what a powerful poem. No excerpting from it; it needs to be read in its entirety.
Richard
Laux has such a mastery of lists, the way she drives a thought forward until it spirals and twists into configurations you never thought you'd ever see. "The Secret of Backs" and "Fall" are two poems especially that are going to keep me coming back to this one, which is a fine thing for any collection to make me do.
Amy Kitchell-Leighty
As usual Laux makes her poetry seem so simple. I always walk away from her poems inspired.

Here are a few of my favs:

Learning to Drive
Lighter
Men
Mine Own Phil Levine
Fourth of July
The Secret of Backs
Foster Child
Second Chances
Middle Name
Mother's Day

Peter
Just great narrative pieces. Take the poem "men" and after you get over your ambiguous or irritated reaction, try it again and you will realize that Laux knows more about what you feel as a man than you do.
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DORIANNE LAUX’s most recent collection is The Book of Men (W.W. Norton). Her fourth book of poems, Facts about the Moon (W.W. Norton), is the recipient of the Oregon Book Award, chosen by Ai. It was also short-listed for the 2006 Lenore Marshall Poetry Prize for the most outstanding book of poems published in the United States and chosen by the Kansas City Star as a noteworthy book of 2005. A fina...more
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