The Life of Images: Selected Prose

Ecco: HarperCollins. Apr. 2015. 352p. ISBN 9780062364715. $27.99; ebk. ISBN 9780062364722. LIT
Simic, an ethnic Serb who immigrated to the United States from Yugoslavia in 1954, has become a prominent voice in American letters. He garnered the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry (1990) and was appointed U.S. Poet Laureate in 2007. Simic has authored more than 30 books of poetry and several volumes of essays and memoirs, translated the works of Serbian poets into English, and is a frequent contributor to the New York Review of Books. This selection, containing 37 essays gleaned from previous collections and four uncollected essays, concentrates on the various manifestations of the image. The moving image is scrutinized in the work of Joseph Cornell and Buster Keaton; and the images of poetic metaphor are exemplified in Emily Dickinson, blues lyrics, and the work of Russian poet Marina Tsvetaeva. There are several essays on the photograph (Paul Strand, Berenice Abbott, and Simic's family photos), the canvas (Odilon Redon, Saul Steinberg, and Hieronymus Bosch) and on the imagination exemplified through the intersection of poetry and philosophy. Simic invests several other essays with autobiographical detail affirming the individual over the tribe and abhorring sectarian or ethnic nationalism.
VERDICT An eclectic and satisfying table prepared by a fine chef.

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