"Charming, melancholy, hip."—Publishers Weekly, starred review
"Zapruder's innovative style is provocative in its unusual juxtapositions of line, image and enjambments. . . . Highly recommended."—Library Journal
Matthew Zapruder's third book mixes humor and invention with love and loss, as when the breath of a lover is compared to "a field of titanium gravestones / growing warmer in the sun." The title poem is an elegy for the heroes and mentors in the poet's life—from David Foster Wallace to the poet's father. Zapruder's poems are direct and surprising, and throughout the book he wrestles with the desire to do well, to make art, and to face the vast events of the day.
Look out scientists! Today the unemployment rate
is 9.4 percent. I have no idea what that means. I tried
to think about it harder for a while. Then
tried standing in an actual stance of mystery
and not knowing towards the world.
Which is my job. As is staring at the back yard
and for one second believing I am actually
rising away from myself. Which is maybe
what I have in common right now with you . . .
Matthew Zapruder holds degrees from Amherst College, UC Berkeley, and the University of Massachusetts. He is the author of two previous books, including The Pajamaist, which won the William Carlos Williams Award and was honored by Library Journal with a "Best Poetry Book of the Year" listing. He lives in San Francisco and is an editor at Wave Books.
Zapruder's third collection of hip, quirkily haunting yet surprisingly earnest poems is his best and most beautiful. He spans the major genres love poetry ("I admire/ and fear you, to me you are an abyss/ I cross towards you"), elegy ("I have been coasting,/ but from this forward Grace I vow/ I shall coast no more"), ode ("my friends ordered square burgers/ with mysterious holes leaking a delicious substance"), friendship tribute ("Dobby lives/ in Minnesota and seems basically happy"), to name a few updating them for the 21st century. He even proves himself to be a charming nature poet: of a fox he says, "it held a grasshopper in its mouth,/ which it dropped when it saw the small carcass of a young javelina." These poems are still full of quick jump-cuts, seeming tangents, and almost adorable imagery, but all more focused on subject matter. In the spooky but also companionable titular long poem that closes the volume, Zapruder communes with an array of unseen presences, from the reader to the shades of his family and influences: "Come with me/ and I will show you/ terrible marvels.// The little cough I heard in my mind/ was one I remembered/ my father made just as he died."