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The Unemployed Fortune-teller


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Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Simic's 18 collected pieces, published between 1990 and 1993, might well be called a parade of memory. In these journals, notebooks, introductions, memoirs, and occasional pieces, Simic recalls the sights, sounds and smells of his native Yugoslavia. Born in Belgrade in 1938, the poet and his family moved to the United States in 1954. From then on, he tells us, poetry has dominated and determined his life. Though he has been living in New Hampshire some 20 years, Simic still relishes the role of exile as he rails at the literary critics and schoolmasters who do not share his view of the power of lyric poetry. Simic is nostalgic and acutely observant of his Serbian roots, as well as his early days in this country. He mixes the erotic with the poetic, the sensual pleasures of food and poetry and a love of language with a love of eating. The best pieces in this collection, however, are those full of wit and pithy pronouncements that come to the defense of poetry. (Nov.)

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