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The Monster Loves His Labyrinth: Notebooks [Paperback]

Charles Simic
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
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The Monster Loves His Labyrinth: Notebooks + The Voice at 3:00 A.M.: Selected Late & New Poems
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Product details

  • Paperback: 115 pages
  • Publisher: Ausable Press (Sep 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1931337403
  • ISBN-13: 978-1931337403
  • Product Dimensions: 21.6 x 13.7 x 1 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 117,448 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This monster loves THAT labyrinth. 30 April 2009
From the ridiculous to the sublime, from the contemplative to the outright poetic, if you are in anyway into poetry you should really own this book. These notes from one of the best poets around are like little shots of whiskey that leave the chest burning long after the swallow.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4.4 out of 5 stars  5 reviews
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Not poetry per se, but rather the stuff from which great poetry (or great prose) can be wrought 14 Nov 2008
By Midwest Book Review - Published on
Yugoslavia-born U.S. Poet Laureate Charles Simic presents The Monster Loves His Labyrinth: Notebooks, an amalgamation of his notebook entries over the course of many years. The observations, insights, and inspirational gleanings are not themselves poetry per se, but rather the stuff from which great poetry (or great prose) can be wrought - or perhaps a simple source of thoughtful contemplation, ideal for whenever one has a few minutes to spare. "We call 'street wise' someone who knows how to look, listen, and interpret the teeming life around him. To walk down a busy city block is a critical act. Literature, aesthetics, and psychology all come into play."
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Pre-poetry notes and free associations. 5 July 2010
By Gary Sprandel - Published on
This collection of short sentences or phrases contains thoughts of Yugoslavian born, poet, Simic and quotes from others on poetry, being Simic and being human, in insomnia, and religion. Some examples:
* I explained by accent to a doctor by telling him that I was raided by a family of deaf-mutes.
* I'm a member of that minority which refuses to be part of any officially designated minority.
* Birds sing to remind us that we have a soul.
* All my life I strove to make a small truth out of an infinity of errors.
* Cioran writes "God is afraid of man . . . . Man in a monster, and history has proved it.",
* How do you know the other? By being madly in Love.
* A poem is an invitation to a voyage. As in life we travel to see fresh sights.
* In a zoo, I noticed many animals who had a fleeting resemblance to me.
* Faulkner somewhere defined poetry as the whole history of the human heart on a head of a pin.
* Insomnia. A lifelong dereliction of duty. A form of rebellion against the whole of eternity. A spit in its eye, as it were.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Monster Loves 25 Dec 2009
By Yugo Lalla - Published on
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This is an excellent book about poetry and Charles Simic's views on poetry, life and the world. Simic is perceptive beyond the normal individual and puts his thoughts into sharp and funny relief. For those who are poets, this is an inspiring book that will help you reach beyond your usual assumptions into a realm of free thought and feeling.
James Cox, Author of Hiding Behind the Elephant's Smile: Prose Poems and Poetic Prose
5.0 out of 5 stars Stray thoughts 27 May 2014
By Mcb - Published on
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Most poets have journals and occasional books wherein they register their stray thoughts. A poet like Charles Simic, whose poetry combines the surreal, the absurd and the concrete, is bound to have a notebook filled with wonderful and strange things. And he does. There is much fun, much tragedy, and much of the poetry of the commonplace in these notes. Of course there are trenchant thoughts about poetry and poets; but Simic also tells stories of his childhood in Yugoslavia, of women he's known, of strange things he's seen. Parts are quite as moving as the best of his poems. Highly recommended.
1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating and irritating (mostly the latter) 2 Jun 2013
By Thomas E. Defreitas - Published on
I had seen excerpts from "Labyrinth" somewhere online, and was looking forward to it. I am thankful that I borrowed the book from the library. While there are some engaging vignettes in the first 40 pages of the volume (especially about Simic's youth in Belgrade and his time in Chicago), the volume quickly degenerates into a sophomoric nose-thumbing of religion, a resolutely quirky surrealism (characteristic of his poems), and several cantankerous political grousings typical of those who would absolve our forty-fourth president for committing the same sins as our forty-third.

There are many striking images, as when Simic compares the moon to the rear-end of a young bride, or Utopia to a chocolate cake under a glass bell. But the few good points do not lead this reader to condone the gross caricatures, the adolescent "rebellion," the aggressively skeptical vituperation.

Simic briefly stirs our sympathy when he says that the unexpected kindness of one human being to another during times of mass violence is worth more than any and all churchy preachment. He's not far from St Paul, he might be surprised to learn, when the apostle writes, "If I speak with the tongues of angels and have not charity, I am nothing." But in the very next breath, he squelches our sympathy by describing a priest being callous to "a homeless woman" (apparently, Simic didn't get her name), as if this episode were somehow representative of all clergy, at all times, everywhere.

We praise Simic's imagination, such as it is, but must withhold praise from the snark and the hackneyed tropes more characteristic of adolescence than of age. I would recommend this book only to the most ardent devotees of Simic's verse.
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