Sleeping With Houdini, prose poems by Nin Andrews (BOA Editions Ltd)

Nin Andrews writes entertaining, personality-driven prose poems pretending to tell the candid truth about their subjects, finally. The work isn’t as “scandalous” and “outrageous” as one of her blurbers insists, since her sensibility has much in common with movies and TV where irreverence, suggestive or graphic, is a pop staple. But there’s a shrewd calculation in her offhandedness.

Coltrane, a biography by Ben Ratliff (Farrar Straus Giroux)

In his autobiography Straight Life, Art Pepper talked about how deeply he was influenced by John Coltrane – so much so that when he came out of prison in 1964 without his alto horns, he acquired a tenor sax. Ben Ratliff plucks the following quotation from Pepper’s book: “ ‘More and more I found myself sounding like Coltrane,’ he wrote.

On Frank Bidart: Fastening the Voice to the Page, essays edited by Liam Rector and Tree Swenson (Univ of Michigan)

The vexing question raised by Frank Bidart’s poetry: Is the language we speak to each other, in negotiating our days, just a stream of euphemisms? Is the language of poetry any better?

The Elephanta Suite, a novel by Paul Theroux (Houghton Mifflin)

In “The Gateway of India,” the middle section of Paul Theroux’s new novel, Dwight Huntsinger is dispatched to Mumbai to close outsourcing deals for his company in Boston. When he returns, he is celebrated as a hero. “He had been welcomed home as though he had been in the jungle, returned from the ends of the earth, escaped the savages, the terrorists, a war zone.

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