Simeon Berry’s Ampersand Revisited* is a curious, revelatory collection, confessional, lyric, and highly detailed.
[Full disclosure: Mr. Berry is the friend of a friend.]
The book is a bildungsroman in prose-poem form, heavily infused with philosophy, and it’s completely fascinating. Dense and carefully wrought, these three long poems explore the speaker’s questioning about almost everything, including family, sex, communication, and language.
It’s completely fascinating, and I say that as someone who is not particularly enamored of the bildungsroman, especially the white male bildungsroman (I have, on this site, admitted to loathing The Catcher in the Rye). But in this book the speaker is focused not only on himself, but on his family, caring deeply about what they make of the world, though he’s not always sure what to do with the information at his disposal.
It’s an intense reading experience, and one that I think I’ll need to repeat to get the most out the collection. If you’re a fan of Anne Carson’s Glass, Irony, and God or Lyn Hejinian’s experimental My Life (which I haven’t read since college, but was viscerally brought to mind here), I recommend reading Ampersand Revisited.
Ampersand Revisited is the winner of the 2013 National Poetry Series. Monograph, which is forthcoming this month, won the 2014 National Poetry Series. You can read the first few pages of Ampersand Revisited here.
* I received a copy of this book from the author for review purposes, which did not affect the content of my review.
4 thoughts on “Recommended Reading: Simeon Berry’s Ampersand Revisited”
I read The Catcher in the Rye so long ago that I can’t remember what I thought of it, but I’m with you on the bildungsroman issue. I’ve always thought it was peculiar that writers return to this type of novel time after time. How much can there be to say?
I know! I would love to see more novels about people in late-middle and old age. That’s part of what made Atwood’s Stone Mattress such a treat to read, I think.
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