Thursday, November 22, 2007

Sleeping Difficulties

"Beauty is difficult."

Tony Tost's new book, Complex Sleep (U of Iowa Press, 2007), is brilliant. It is much more difficult than Invisible Bride (LSU Press, 2004), a bit like Ben Lerner's Angle of Yaw is more difficult than The Lichtenberg Figures. Actually, the difficulty gap is greater: Figures is more difficult than Bride, Yaw is less difficult than Sleep.

All these books are well worth the effort. Like Lerner's "Twenty-one Gun Salute for Ronald Reagan" (and "Howl", for that matter), the title poem, "Complex Sleep", works best (for me) when taken in at one go, out loud.

Not incidentally, I've been having a hard time with Barrett Watten's "Progress". "Sleep" and "Reagan" (and "Howl", for that matter) work for me in a way that "Progress" does not. But I'm starting to see what Watten was trying to do, and what he may have accomplished for his readers at the time. I may yet come around.

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