Book Review: My Noiseless Entourage: Poems

My Noiseless Entourage:  Poems, by Charles Simic

When one becomes familiar with an author through reading a large quantity of his or her works, one gets a very strong sense of who they are as an author.  There are some authors who grow in one’s estimation over time as one gets a sense of their depth and profundity.  There are other authors who may seem entertaining at first but become cloying and irritating after a while.  I find that Simic does not fall into either of those camps, but rather he is someone who reveals himself pretty openly in any book of his poetry you happen to read, and then remains consistent throughout, emphasizing different aspects of his approach in different volumes but largely remaining consistent as an author.  If you like the author’s approach and find his mordant view of the world appealing, you will likely find any of his books appealing.  If you are not won over by the author’s descriptions of his own struggles with the infinite and divine, then you are not likely to enjoy much of his reading at all.  Either way, his approach has been consistent in all the books I have read of his so far [1] (most of whom have their reviews forthcoming).

Divided into four parts, this book, like many others within its author’s oeuvre, is under 100 pages in length and presents no difficulties to reading, aside from coming to terms with the author’s approach to life and writing, which is a pretty consistent challenge present in all of his works.  As is often the case, the reader may wonder about the relationship between the title of the book and its emphasis within the author’s characteristic concerns.  Here, as in many of the author’s works, there are reflections about morning, insomnia, dreams and intrusive memories, death, mysticism, and related subjects.  But here too the author makes his approach to used clothing and used books an issue, along with an explicit appreciation of the tragic view of history, confession, and the futility as well as chancy aspects of life.  These do not amount to a change in the author’s perspective, but rather suggest that when the author wrote these poems there were certain preoccupations on his mind, and here the author appears to be aiming at a more sordid part of life where cockroaches dwell and where people go to thrift shops and used book stores to look for bargains.

This is not a world I am unfamiliar with, nor is it a world I have failed to explore in my own writing, but it is intriguing to think that a well-known and world-famous author like this one would aim his writings in such a direction.  Is he reflecting on the ghosts of history, or is it really that even well-known poets are simply not as well off as we might assume.  The author, like many people, travels through life burdened by the ghosts of the past who continue to haunt him even if they are unrecognized by others, but that troubled spirit appears to make him lose track of time and examine a part of the world that seems to attract little attention by many poets–how many poets write about talk radio, for example?  As is often the case, the author draws a sense of sympathy even if much of what he talks about is pretty disturbing.  That complexity, in that the author is sympathetic even if much of his writing is not particularly written with sympathy in mind, is one of the more notable aspects of the writer’s approach, and something well worth keeping in mind as one reads his works.

[1] See, for example:

About nathanalbright

I'm a person with diverse interests who loves to read. If you want to know something about me, just ask.
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