In this collection, winner of the 1990 Pulitzer Prize, Charles Simic puns, pulls pranks. He can be jazzy and streetwise. Or cloak himself in antiquity. Simic has new eyes, and in these wonderful poems and poems-in-prose he lets the reader see through them.
These 67 prose poems could be from Hamlet's writing tablet: investigating madness, they search for truth. Poet, translator, winner of a MacArthur Fellowship, Simic tries to make sense of a world that like ``the old river . . . in its confusion sometimes forgets and flows backwards.'' Ancestors undergo mysterious ``dark and evil days'' (a man exchanges clothes with a dog, heaven is full of ``little shrunken deaf ears instead of stars'') that test their sanity. From the best of these sophisticated fables of trial by ordeal, wry intensity flashes. On ``the verge of understanding,'' ``in a forest of question marks,'' Simic's work, mingling Rimbaud and Socrates, startles us into meditation.-- Frank Allen, Allentown Coll., Center Valley, Pa.