The Book of Men by Dorianne Laux, could just as easily have been called The Book of Empathy, or The Book of Negative Capability, or The Book of Intimate Awareness of Who We Are and How We Got To Be This Way. Whether she is writing about men or women, the powerful or the powerless, the present day or the past, Laux observes, evokes and meditates with profound compassion and understanding for the delicate complexities of the human heart. Book of Men is a fabulous book that all men and women who turn to poetry for pleasure and knowledge will be reading with gratitude and admiration for many years to come. –Alan Shapiro
At the emergency room, I read The Book of Men, then hand it to my wife, who is wired to a couple of machines. She says, Oh my, these are wonderful, and I agree and think, yes, these are poems for the people of planet Earth, for those who wait tables in Juneau, Alaska in order to buy a bed, who go off to war in place of those who send them, for whom gold is the “color of mold in the broken refrigerator” rather than a smart investment, and for whom language crafted to speak truly and memorably of such things is a kind of salvation. In The Book of Men, our recognition of a drifting world brought to the hard edge of meaning is immediate and enduring and makes us grateful once again for poetry’s capacity for rescue. I read “Staff Sgt. Metz” to the nurse on duty, and he says in a whisper, For Chrissakes, who wrote that? and I say, A poet named Dorianne Laux. –B.H. Fairchild
Each poem in The Book of Men is a world we pulse in & out of, each makes us aware of a distant music we never paid attention to before, each makes us aware of our own bodies, as we hold the book, as we absorb her music, holding the stuff of the world in our hands. The poetry of Dorianne Laux is essential.
Dorianne Laux has always been a brave poet; her work underwritten by a grownup sense of the tragic, and drawn upwards by loving respect for the powers of sex and beauty. Now her lyrical ear is better than ever, her poems and her vision ever more impressive and distinct. She's one of the poets who is keeping alive the brave art of looking, who insists on the humanizing fact of the mortal body. The Book of Men is a songbook- ruthless, damaged, and full of fierce athletic compassion. --Tony Hoagland
Dorianne Laux is a poet of praise and a celebrator of the erotic and of survival. In this collection Death comes to dance with the life she loves so well - our life: miraculous and mortal --and the dance is irresistible." --Marie Howe