About this Item
Quantity Available: 1
Title: Beautiful False Things: Poems
Publisher: Grove Press, New York, New York, U.S.A.
Publication Date: 2000
Binding: Trade Paperback
Book Condition: Very Good
Dust Jacket Condition: As issued No Jacket
Edition: Edition Unstated
Book Type: Book
About this title
This tenth collection of Irving Feldman's poems extends what readers and critics have long recognized as a body of work singular in its lyric, visionary, even prophetic intensity; its extravagant wit; its powerful storytelling; and its variety of voices and range of feeling - playful, tender, ardent, biting, enthralled. Here, among the major poems of Beautiful False Things, the stand-up comic Larry Sunrise of "Funny Bones" duels with death in Florida; in "Oedipus Host," Oedipus arrives from his millennia-long trek to host a TV talk show; and the plucky feminist heroine of "Heavenly Muse" visits yet another barely worthy male poet. In the tragicomic title poem, "translation" comes to stand for the dilemmas of expression in a culture that sucks up language and spews it back.
Oscar Wilde, who wrote most memorably of "beautiful untrue things," he's not. But in two or three worthy poems in his 10th collection, Feldman passes for Shelly Berman, Don Rickles or Albert Brooks, a comic talent hellbent on sentiment. Mean-spirited misfires nearly sink the book: two disgruntled memoirs of Paul Goodman ("The slugger doesn't hit on the batboy" from "Lives of the Poets"), a fungal series of satire-lets ("How can sharing bread not be true companionship?/ When a shit-eater has you dine from his dish") and a murkily critical reading of poet laureate Robert Pinsky's translation of Dante's Inferno. Feldman's better when practicing self-deprecation without simultaneously trying to even a score, as in the resolutely academic, "Oedipus Host" and "Funny Bones, or Larry Dawn's 1001 Nights in Condolandia." While his talk-show version of Oedipus at Colonus (tonight's guests: Job and Lear) isn't much wittier a concept than one of the less successful Saturday Night Live sketches, he gets points for sheer weirdness and joy at the apotheosis: "Suddenly, this big smile. It's like teeth can see." And that Larry Dawn is supposed to be a cross between Lazarus and Scheherezade somehow doesn't get in the way of the oomph of its gallows schtick. It's too bad the book doesn't make more use of the title character of the best poem here, "Heavenly Muse."
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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