O's Top 20 Books to Read This Summer
The must-reads that'll take you straight through to Labor Day.
11 of 20
Scribbled in the Dark: Poems
Former poet laureate and Pulitzer Prize winner Simic is revered for his gorgeous imagery and command of metaphor. Yet the title of his new collection is literal: An insomniac, Simic routinely lies awake in bed at night. Rather than switching on the light, he floats along on a current of thought, brooding over the world's "doom and gloom" and old age's shadow. Eventually, he reaches for a notepad to jot down phrases that in the morning will be almost illegible but will spur him to a finished poem. Simic blends totems of mortality—crows ("intelligent birds, they get to know you," he says) and cemeteries—with snapshots of lovers sipping wine, savoring their attraction to each other. He refines his ideas on dawn hikes through the New Hampshire woods and over long hours at his desk, a man "Who can't help but see the world with his heart / And hopes not to forget what he saw."