RaveThe New York Times Book ReviewZagajewski attains a scale that is epic in a poetic voice that is intimate, nearly mild. The seeming opposites — historical vision and personal tone — pervade True Life, posthumously published in an effective English translation by Clare Cavanagh ... Understated but stringent ... The surface calm avoids the customary postures of condemnation; this poetry has a blade of penetration that is less forgiving and more demanding than ordinary, rhetorical righteousness ... The poems are at an extreme of truth-telling. They deploy understatement like a talisman as they enter the grandly menacing yet oblivious borderland of our worst human doings.
PositiveThe New York Times Book ReviewBy structuring Keats around nine specific poems (and an epitaph), and allowing herself a recurring, candid first person, Miller evokes the shifting, various genius of her subject without dumbing-down, while avoiding the conventions of academic biography ... It is a pleasure to have the full text of a poem at the beginning of each chapter, followed by a personal essay combining Keats’s story with the author’s sensible, attentive understanding of each poem, in itself and as part of the poet’s life story ... Her commentary cannot replace, but does counterbalance, learned, impassioned debates about the ideas in Keats’s great letters. In this passage, she helps a reader perceive the actual, living, 25-year-old man ... Lucasta Miller’s brief, conversational (at moments chatty) book, with its organization based on the poet’s writing, making the poems the starting point, might be a fitting document, among many thousands, for that imaginary communication between John Keats and us, his future readers.
RaveThe New York Times Book ReviewNo one’s biography has more completely or ardently embodied the visions and contradictions, the achievements and calamities, the social mobility and social animosities, of that life span [of the last century] ... The book begins with a few dozen pages of engaging narrative of a conventional kind ... That linear setup gradually sublimates into long, lyrical sentences of freewheeling associations: the verbal riffs of a good talker. Readers hoping for reminiscences of Beat figures like Ginsberg (\'Ginzy\') and Jack Kerouac (\'Ti-Jean\') may be disappointed. Ferlinghetti approaches writers and writing in a more sweeping, lofty way ... Above all, Ferlinghetti is literary in the American way of his generation, with the appealing old-fashioned enthusiasm of an autodidact ... the story of Little Boy echo[es] a great national question. From the sublime mass-art works of Buster Keaton, now preserved in university archives, through the ebullient logic of classical music in \'Looney Tunes,\' to the absurdity of a president rising from a dumb \'reality\' TV show, from Coney Island to the Mind: Who, little boys and girls, juvenile yet old, do we think we are?
RaveThe New York Times Book ReviewThe point here is not the exotic but its opposite: mysteries of the ordinary, attained in patiently awaited, brief flashes. In other words, this is a book about human culture ... The images are populated with human life, but for the most part that life is implicit: with a notable, climactic exception, there are few faces. These choices are deeply purposeful. The abstaining, in texts and photographs, is ardent ... This questioning, tentative habit of mind, with its allegiance to particulars, suspending judgment while hoping for the brief, limited miracle of insight, drives Cole’s enterprise.