This collection, winner of the 2006 Pulitzer Prize for poetry, opens with “Theories of Time and Space,” a poem that alerts the reader to the territory under artistic surveillance. It begins with the lines: “You can get there from here, though / there’s no going home.
These are difficult times for defenders of liberty. With the ironically named Patriot Act (whose name is an acronym for Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism), law enforcement agencies have gained greatly increased powers to search telephone and e-mail communications without a warrant.
Not long ago the New York Times carried a story about a California congregation that maintains three separate bands: one specializing in soft rock, one in hard rock and one in classic rock. It effectively recruits its members, all 8,000 of them, according to their taste in Christian rock music.
An ambitious young man leaves the provinces, hoping to make his fortune in the city. He first is infatuated with the glittering world he finds there, then gradually becomes disillusioned by the anxiety and corruption beneath the bright surface. What moral choices will the young man make? What will he become if he remains in the city?