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Paperback Lawrence Booth's Book of Visions Book

ISBN: 0300089988

ISBN13: 9780300089981

Lawrence Booth's Book of Visions

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Book Overview

This year's winner of the Yale Series of Younger Poets competition is Maurice Manning's Lawrence Booth's Book of Visions. These compelling poems take us on a wild ride through the life of a man child in the rural South. Presenting a cast of allegorical and symbolic, yet very real, characters, the poems have "authority, daring, [and] a language of color and sure movement," says series judge W.S. Merwin. From Seven Chimeras The way Booth makes a love...

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Customer Reviews

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Once again the Yale Series of Younger Poets has brought a wonderful collection to print. Maurice Manning's "Lawrence Booth's Book of Visions" is a deeply intense book of poems that is likely to affect every reader that comes across it. At times frightening, the poems are about the world of a boy named Lawrence Booth, or Law, at different points during his childhood and adolescence. The characters and events are recounted in a wonderfully vivid manner, but much of the time you are left wondering what is really is occurring in Law's life, and what is just a "vision." The most remarkable aspect of this book is the use of voice. Different poems are written in different ways, which contributes to the animated nature of the book. At one end of the spectrum are the "Dreadful Chapters" which are written in a backwoods voice that, on the page, may look confusing because of spelling, but when read aloud are amazingly real and powerful: "An why come Law git stuck wit such a name / dat he alway cipher wrong from right-- / so much he git a tooth-clench mood to fight?" (from "Dreadful Chapter Two). At the opposite end is a more elegant voice that uses beautiful metaphors: "Sheepish as a far off echo, Lawrence Booth wades / into the Great Fields and the wide-yawning night" (from "Bellwether"). And, of course, there are countless voices to be found in this collection that lie somewhere in between these two extremes.One thing must be noted is that this collection is difficult to understand. The poems are not in chronological order, and are sometimes missing some information that is given in another poem later or earlier in the book. Furthermore, some poems are "unconventional." One is in the form of a geometry proof, and another is a complaint form. Personally, though, I think that the search for answers in this book is a big part of the joy in reading it. Piecing together information, finding links between poems because of a certain voice, phrase, or word used, and concentrating on the imagery and form was a pleasure to do, and it really added to the experience of the book. I feel that the ambiguity within the pages helps to suggest the uncertainty in Law's life.I have rated Manning's book at five out of five stars. It was undoubtedly the best book of poetry I have come across this year, and I am sure he will be bringing us more in the future.

A Brillaint Collection of Visions

Compelling and captivating, this book kept me engrossed from cover to cover. The book keeps you guessing from beginning to end and hence engages the reader at all times. In the book, Maurice Manning gives us glimpses from the life of Lawrence Booth but holds back the entire picture and it is like a jigsaw puzzle with some pieces missing and hence the reader, trying to see the complete picture, is constantly guessing. That is not the only charm that the book has. What is fascinating is that it is an adult painting a vision of the world through the eyes of a child and not just any child but the strange Lawrence Booth; a child with a fascinating and vivid imagination and a vision of the world that is colored by his troubled home life. A window in to the hopes, dreams and experiences of Lawrence, one cannot help but fall in love with this strange, distressed boy. Your heart goes out to this boy who has been robbed of a childhood due to his difficult family circumstances. If it seems that the book is a collection of melodramatic and melancholic poems, it is certainly not true. For what stands out most in all these poems is the courage and spunk of Lawrence Booth. His indomitable spirit shines through each poem bringing forth a sense of self-deprecating humor despite his hard family life for he is "The boy with the brains God gave a goose. The boy who took thirteen rabies shots in the belly." This removes any possible air of depression from the book in fact the straight, matter of fact and brutally honest narration gives the book a humorous quality. The language used is honest and in the poems called "Dreadful chapters" it is written as it is spoken. His ability to capture in words not only the accent but also the true feelings and emotions make this book fascinating to read. There is a wide variety of poems in this short collection for poems like "Shady Grove" will make you think of profound questions, the "Dreadful Chapters" might make you cringe with their language or disturbing scenarios, "Prisoner of Conscience" and "Seventeen" will make you laugh out loud at their blunt sincerity while poems such as "Beck" and "Complain" will astound you with their unconventional formats. Hence, even though the central characters remain the same, each poem offers something new and keeps the reader guessing where it fits in, into the greater picture of Lawrence Booth's life. During the course of the book it is impossible to dissociate the voice of Manning from that of Booth, which is evidence of the success of the poetry, by the end you are immersed in Booth's friendship with Black Damon, his attachment to Red Dog and his love for the mysterious, Missionary Woman. this book is fascinating and interesting to read. Although some of the images and ideas are violent are disturbing they are thought provoking and sincere. And like any good book of poetry this book will leave you crying and laughing and most important of all, wanting you to come back to it again.

A delightful book of life in the eyes of Lawrence Booth

Maurice Manning's "Lawrence Booth's Book of Visions," is unlike any book of poetry I have ever read. Granted, I have not read many books of poetry, but it is unlike even my conception of contemporary poetry. I envision a book of contemporary poetry to be free verse, very abstract (in an ethereal sense), and with perhaps a common theme running through the poems, but never a plot. "Lawrence Booth's Book of Visions" was written in free verse, but it was not abstract and definitely had if not a plot, a story to tell. The book begins much like play, with a prologue ("Bellwether"-or an indicator of what is to come) and a cast of characters ("Dramatis Personae"). However, the book reads more as a novel than a play. The most helpful insight I can give is that its text seems to be drawn from Lawrence Booth's scrapbook of journal entries and other various documents. It reads like a collection of journal entries randomly ordered ranging from his childhood-the "Dreadful" chapters, in which the voice and writing of the poem takes on that of a child's, for example in "Dreadful Chapter Three," he writes, "Law's Pore Mama bury four boar hog toothey in de yard say her broken down famly need ever stroke a louck dey can git-"-to adulthood and beyond. In the adulthood poems, they take a quality of reflection and are written as though Law is looking at a photograph of himself from his childhood and remembering what he felt at that point in time. For example, in "Antimatter," he writes, "He cannot believe in a callously random universe, the spark that ignited the big bang...Now it is autumn-time, after the harvest, and Booth feels left out." The other various documents include a letter home from Booth's grade school teacher: "Progress Report," a "Complaint," and poem written like a proof for geometry class: "Proof." All of these collectively give you "Lawrence Booth's Book of Visions." Admittedly, my favorite of these were the journal-like poems. However, with the complete collection, I really felt as though I were reading a novel, and my favorite part of reading this book was that the characters really came alive. A couple suggestions for reading the book: read it twice, because the second time through will clarify some of the earlier poems once the characters become familiar; and refrain from reading the introduction or even these reviews (although it is too late) until you have read the book in its entirety-this way you are not biased while reading the poems and you will be able to hear each voice as YOU would instinctively hear it.I highly recommend this book for anyone who loves reading novels or any poetry reader who would enjoys poems in ANY form.

Fictional Characters, Refreshing Poetry filled with Emotion

Maurice Manning's first collection of poetry is, in a word, refreshing. Unlike the work of many contemporary poets, Manning's poems are not thinly veiled considerations of his own experience but investigations into the lives of a set of fictional characters. Similar to a novel in many ways, Lawrence Booth's Book of Visions follows Law Booth from his troubled childhood in 1970's rural Kentucky into his adult years as an eccentric recluse. The chronology of his life, however, is by no means clear. Pinnacle events and characters reappear throughout the poem sequence, allowing past and present to coexist in a way that attempts to reproduce the protagonist's movement into madness. Because this is a "Book of Visions," some of the episodes depicted here must be figments of Booth's imagination. The blurred distinction between these and the events that `actually' occurred is also meant to illustrate the central character's approaching insanity. These many uncertainties make Lawrence Booth a book the reader must work to understand. Enough questions remain after finishing the final poem to encourage the reader to begin the collection again, but not so many to frustrate the attempt. Publisher's Weekly called these poems "surprisingly difficult" and they are, but not in the same way that much contemporary poetry is. Many potential readers are scared off by poetry whose meaning must be sought through veils of confusing images. Manning's poems are "difficult" because the chronology and the truth of the underlying story are obscured. The best way to read this book, then, is to approach it as one might a contemporary novel whose plot is revealed only through the flashbacks of characters with differing perspectives. The challenge of such a project is what makes it interesting. Lawrence Booth's Book of Visions is to some extent unsolvable, however, just one more quality that makes it refreshing when compared to its peers. Manning's poems are more than just challenging and interesting, though, and they do more than simply follow a set of characters as a prose story might. Their content is gutsy and emotional, especially in the "Dreadful Chapters" that are spoken in a backwoods dialect that reflects the coarseness of the boy's abusive, alcoholic father who, after shooting his dog, "smak[s] lil Law in he sassy head an say, / Next time, Red Doggie gonna lie like a rug / all still, I kill him deader an four o'clock." Other poems are poignant and moving, as in "Calumet" where Law's boyhood friend Black Damon comforts him with the gift of "an amber flint," saying, "pretend it stops / your chest from feeling shattered." Still others are humourous, as "Envoy" in which Booth "Would like to find sober woman (beer okay) / interested in pick-up trucks, old-time / Gospel music, buffalo trails." This last poem reads like a list of possible personal ads for the main character. Like other poems in the collection, it places poetry in the context of a different genre

There's a Voice Inside My Skin

I read this book in manuscript form on some vague, accidental day last spring. I knew then that it was a wonder. i'm not sure how anyone could read it, the song of it, the voices, the dangerous, laughing men, and not sit down and cry. Cry for Law and Damon, cry for all of us. What an amazing book. And there are more to come. These are amazing poems. Together they make a stunning sequence.
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