Sixteen years’ worth of incisive essays by the great poet and memoirist
“Witty, gritty poet and memoirist Kleinzahler” (Publishers Weekly) has gathered the best of sixteen years’ worth of essays, remembrances, and reviews in this scabrous and essential collection, setting down his thoughts about great poets and bad poets, about kvetching fiction writers and homicidal musicians, about eccentric critics and discerning nobodies, always with insight and humor, and never suffering fools gladly.
Here, in Sallies, Romps, Portraits, and Send-Offs, August Kleinzahler eulogizes famous friends, warts and all (Thom Gunn, Christopher Middleton, Leonard Michaels); leads the charge in carving up a few bloated reputations (E. E. Cummings, Richard Brautigan); and sings the praises of unjustly neglected masters (Lucia Berlin, Kenneth Cox). He also turns the spotlight on himself in several short, delightful memoirs, covering such subjects as his obsessive CD collecting, the eerie effects of San Francisco fog, and the terrible duty of selling of his childhood home.
About the Author
August Kleinzahler published his first book of poetry, A Calendar of Airs, in 1978. In 2003, Farrar, Straus and Giroux published The Strange Hours Travelers Keep, which won the 2004 Griffin International Poetry Prize. His collection of poetry, Sleeping It Off in Rapid City, won the 2008 National Book Critics Circle Award. He is also the author of the prose books Cutty, One Rock: Low Characters and Strange Places, Gently Explained (FSG, 2004) and Music: I-LXXIV (Pressed Wafer, 2009), and the winner of the 2008 Lannan Literary Award for Poetry and the 2017 American Academy of Arts and Letters Literature Award. A native of Fort Lee, New Jersey, Kleinzahler currently lives in San Francisco.
"Aficionados of this esteemed San Francisco writer’s work know him, perhaps primarily, as a poet gifted with a lean but luxuriant language of place . . . You can’t read this writer without knowing exactly where he is and where he’s been. The pleasures and gratifications of his prose are by no means merely geographical. With his pellucid style, which seems at once expansive and tightly wrought, patiently intuitive and purposeful, Kleinzahler is exceptionally good at tracking not only his own often adamant thoughts and abundant enthusiasms . . . but at registering the felt life of the world and people around him . . ." —Steven Winn, San Francisco Chronicle
"Kleinzahler is a plain speaker who knows his way around a sentence and understands the duty of a critic. He exhibits taste and good sense, he knows the difference between judgment and opinion, and he picks just the right quotations . . . By turns wistful, sardonic, wry, and occasionally silly, this collection offers genuine pleasure." —Michael Autrey, Booklist
"Tasty literary assessments served with a dollop of gossip." —Kirkus Reviews