Still Life in Milford

Still Life in Milford

3.87 (91 ratings by Goodreads)
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In Still Life in Milford, Lynch casts the cold eye we are told to on life and death, history and memory, the local and the larger geographics. Examining the dynamics of faith, remembrance, and intimate conduct, these poems are informed by end times, tribulations and visions that make up the ordinary enterprise of daily life. Colloquy and narrative, soliloquy and tribute, Still Life in Milford engages the full register of the poet's voices as elegist, eulogist, obituarist, straight man and passer-by to achieve a difficult and inimitable more

Product details

  • Paperback | 72 pages
  • 132 x 192 x 8mm | 81.65g
  • Vintage Publishing
  • Jonathan Cape Ltd
  • London, United Kingdom
  • English
  • 0224051598
  • 9780224051590
  • 1,608,078

Review Text

Hot off the success of Lynch's recent memoir of his grim trade, The Undertaking (1997), comes his second American collection of verse, which includes the poems published previously in a British edition. A solid though hardly expert craftsman, Lynch imagines himself a "witness" to ordinary life, even if he's "better at elegy than commencement." And it's true: almost a cliche of an Irish Catholic, he dwells on death, sex, and the romance of the old country. Numerous poems linger on his father's bad health and eulogize his eventual death, which induces near panic in the poet who, elsewhere, dreams of him ("Kisses"). Of course, Lynch's job brings him close to death on a daily basis: "One of Jack's" is an autopsy in clinical detail; "That Scream If You Ever Heard It" effectively rubs our noses in the gore; and "Couplets" brilliantly outlines his work, which he hopes to pass on to his sons. A sonnet sequence, inspired by Gregorian hymns, surveys the sexual obsessions of a Catholic youth, from a not-so-sorry confession of sin to moments of guilt-ridden horniness, even as he later understands we invoke God most often in bed and at the grave side. Least effective are Lynch's tales from Ireland, some of which imagine a mythic hermit named "Argyle," who challenges the Church's authority, and others pay homage to Nora Lynch, the spinster relative who maintains the family property in West Clare. The considerable pleasures of this ample volume outweigh the sloppy bursts of sentiment and blarney: Lynch's crystal-clear voice often serves him well. (Kirkus Reviews)show more

Review quote

"A poet of great gifts, a humorous visionary" -- Laura Cumming Guardian "Like his admired Theodore Roethke, Lynch hails from Michigan - and like Roethke he can fashion long, singing lines unafraid of the old elemental resonances of stars, roses, angels, the Latin mysteries of his Catholic childhood... A mavellous, life-giving collection" -- Adam Thorpe Observer "A fine and accomplished poet" -- Harry Ritchie Financial Times "An artist of great gifts, musically elevating and directing the speaking voice towards a startling power, moving through the accumulation of detail to give a visionary account of the ordinary life, doing justice to its terror and comedy. If it remains the poet's task to say things on behalf of everybody, Lynch shows how it should be done" -- Sean O'Brien "Tragic, cryptic, compassionate and amusing, Lynch's poetry moves in a superb rhythm through the commonplace and the extraordinary" -- Jessamy Galkin GQshow more

About Thomas Lynch

Thomas Lynch's poems, essays and stories have appeared in The Atlantic and Granta, Harper's and the Times (of London, New York, Ireland and L.A.) and elsewhere. He has published four poetry collections and a collection of stories, Apparition & Other Late Fictions (published by Jonathan Cape), as well as works of non-fiction, including The Undertaking: Life Studies from the Dismal Trade. He lives in Milford, Michigan and in Moveen, West more

Rating details

91 ratings
3.87 out of 5 stars
5 26% (24)
4 43% (39)
3 23% (21)
2 8% (7)
1 0% (0)
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