Consider the mysteries of the heart, that blood-pumping organ and, in Stephen Dobyns' latest collection of poems, the hapless romantic of our interior landscape. "The Himalayas Within Him" finds Heart worrying about the sound of his own heartbeat, wondering why it doesn't "blare like a quartet of trombones" as it reflects his "ardent complexity." ...Read MoreConsider the mysteries of the heart, that blood-pumping organ and, in Stephen Dobyns' latest collection of poems, the hapless romantic of our interior landscape. "The Himalayas Within Him" finds Heart worrying about the sound of his own heartbeat, wondering why it doesn't "blare like a quartet of trombones" as it reflects his "ardent complexity." In "Goodbye to the Hands That Have Touched Him" Heart, after suffering many sleepless nights, decides "that love exists at the root of his problems. Without love his path would be as smooth as a plate of glass and he'd sleep like a kitten." Dividing the Heart poems is the long "Oh, Immobility, Death's Vast Associate, " a jazzy disquisition on human isolation and inaction in the midst of a planet full of people feeling similarly. Throughout Pallbearers Envying the One Who Rides Dobyns has painstakingly sculpted straight-forward language into a distinct sound, creating an unforgettable collection of poems that offers readers unexpected revelations about the complexities of the heart.Read Less
Publishers Weekly, 1999-07-26 The 10th collection of poems by suspense novelist (Boy in the Water; Forecasts, May 3) and poet Stephen Dobyns (Velocities; Common Carnage) is a modern morality cycle with an Everyman-like figure named Heart at its center. In 61 episodic poems, Dobyns reels off the foibles of Heart, who comes to resemble Charlie Brown as seen by Charles Bukowski. Heart is foiled repeatedly in his ill-conceived attempts to attract women (his knife-sharp steel valentine is intercepted by the bomb squad; he buys chest wigs to bolster his masculinity, but ends up eating them). His quest for happiness comes to an end over and over in similarly amusing and depressing anecdotes, and by the book's close one wonders whether Heart might not do well to listen to Prozac. Or even to FreudÄDobyns's willful sarcasm seems to want to foreclose its possibilities, as if by filling this book with cartoon versions of anxiety some genuine problem of lyric identityÄis Heart really only misogynistic Spleen?Ämight be forestalled. Which is not to dismiss the more pointed cartoons: in "Great Job," Heart takes the craze for validation to the point of running down into the street in the rain and telling everybody "Great job" as they pass. At the center of the book is a meditation on depressive inertia, "Oh, Immobility, Death's Vast Associate," in which Dobyns takes a stab at figuring out why most of existence is spent in a hostile state of doing nothing. In this case, it might just be a well-deserved rest. (Sept.) Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.
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