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The Book of Men

4.23  ·  Rating details ·  484 ratings  ·  60 reviews
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 "continually engaging and, at her best, luminous" (San Diego Union-Tribune).

from "To Kiss Frank,"
make out with/>
Hardcover, 96 pages
Published February 28th 2011 by W. W. Norton Company
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Average rating 4.23  · 
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 ·  484 ratings  ·  60 reviews

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Dorianne Laux
Jun 02, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  (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
Apr 24, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: poetry
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
Nov 13, 2010 rated it it was amazing
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,
James Murphy
Apr 04, 2011 rated it it was amazing
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
Sep 30, 2010 rated it it was amazing
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
Sep 21, 2011 rated it really liked it
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
Apr 18, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: poetry
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
Apr 27, 2011 rated it it was amazing
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
Bryony Rose
Nov 03, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: poetry
You've walked those streets a thousand times and still
you end up here. Regret none of it, not one
of the wasted days you wanted to know nothing,
when the lights from the carnival rides
were the only stars you believed in, loving them
for their uselessness, not wanting to be saved.
You've traveled this far on the back of every mistake,
ridden in dark-eyed and morose but calm as a house
after the TV set has been pitched out the window.
Harmless as a br
Collin Kelley
Sep 05, 2011 rated it really liked it
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.
Pearse Anderson
Apr 13, 2018 rated it really liked it
Favorite poems:
Roots, Gold, Homicide Detective: A Film Noir, Lighter, Learning to Drive, and Late-Night TV. So a good collection I guess. I dunno, not my favorite. Narrative poems that worked for me, though!

Connection: Laux will be teaching at the Tin House Summer Workshop when I will be working there.
John Wyszniewski
May 31, 2011 rated it really liked it
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.
Mar 11, 2011 rated it it was amazing
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.
May 29, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: poetry
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.
Superstition Review
Oct 27, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: issue-8-poetry
Review of Dorianne Laux’s The Book of Men

“Regret nothing,” begins a poem in Dorianne Laux’s The Book of Men: “Regret none of it, not one/ of the wasted days you wanted to know nothing,/ when the lights from the carnival rides/ were the only stars you believed in, loving them/ for their uselessness, not wanting to be saved.” These lines from “Antilamentation” feel essential to this very courageous collection of poems, which read like hymns to the intrinsic value of struggle, hard work
Aug 14, 2012 rated it it was amazing
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
Sally Maria
Aug 30, 2011 rated it it was amazing
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 f
Nov 19, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorite-poetry
I bought this book when I saw Dorianne Laux read at my school earlier this Fall, because after hearing the poem about Super Man contemplating his cancer while smoking pot high above Metropolis, I had to get the book that contained it. Laux's poems feel so settled and complete, and read not like someone contemplating her subject matter, but like someone who has just found the perfect wording for her mind's wanderings; she gives you the words for your absent observations that float around day to d ...more
Jan 20, 2013 rated it liked it
(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 exerci
Feb 12, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: poetry, favorites
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
Sep 05, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: poetry
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!
Oct 29, 2010 rated it liked it
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!
A. M.
May 01, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: poetry, 2014
A very American book of poetry, parsing the past - history, bodies, relationships - through carefully measured, down to earth prose. The collection feels somewhat fractured, with certain poems standing out as much stronger after the initial read. Context and revisiting may well change that, however, and it doesn't diminish the work as a whole. Easily recommendle.
Andrea Judy
Mar 04, 2014 rated it it was amazing
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.
May 14, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: poetry
"And oh, the oh my nape of the neck. The up-swept oh my
nape of the neck. I could walk behind anyone and fall in love.

Don’t stop. Don’t turn around."

—D Laux, The Secret of Backs

Voyeuristic, passionate, intense. And no, I'm not Humbert Humbert.
Jan 10, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: poetry
I want to call Laux's language 'casual-sensual.' She opens just enough doors to simplicity -- careful not to leave readers struggling to catch up.
May 28, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Really great poetry you can relate to!
Bonnie Childs
Sep 13, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Something I would love to buy for my mother. Effortless time travel, engrossing line after line. I want to buy it but it's fairly rare in stores, so online is the go.
Jul 02, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: poetry
Stride right out there poems. Then sit down and look me in the eye.
Feb 11, 2015 rated it it was amazing
An excellent collection of poems. I especially enjoyed the last poem in the book. This poetry's imagery and feeling leave a lasting impression on the reader. 5/5.
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DORIANNE LAUX’s most recent collection is Only As The Day Is Long: New and Selected. She is also author of The Book of Men (W.W. Norton) which won the Paterson Prize for Poetry. 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 poe ...more
“Regret nothing. Not the cruel novels you read
to the end just to find out who killed the cook.
Not the insipid movies that made you cry in the dark,
in spite of your intelligence, your sophistication.
Not the lover you left quivering in a hotel parking lot,
the one you beat to the punchline, the door, or the one
who left you in your red dress and shoes, the ones
that crimped your toes, don’t regret those.
Not the nights you called god names and cursed
your mother, sunk like a dog in the livingroom couch,b
chewing your nails and crushed by loneliness.
You were meant to inhale those smoky nights
over a bottle of flat beer, to sweep stuck onion rings
across the dirty restaurant floor, to wear the frayed
coat with its loose buttons, its pockets full of struck matches.
You’ve walked those streets a thousand times and still
you end up here. Regret none of it, not one
of the wasted days you wanted to know nothing,
when the lights from the carnival rides
were the only stars you believed in, loving them
for their uselessness, not wanting to be saved.
You’ve traveled this far on the back of every mistake,
ridden in dark-eyed and morose but calm as a house
after the TV set has been pitched out the upstairs
window. Harmless as a broken ax. Emptied
of expectation. Relax. Don’t bother remembering any of it.
Let’s stop here, under the lit sign
on the corner, and watch all the people walk by.”
More quotes…