What Poets Are Like
Up and Down with the Writing Life
By Gary Soto
(Sasquatch Books, Hardcover, 9781570618741, 199pp.)
Publication Date: August 20, 2013
List Price: $15.00*
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In some 60 short episodes, this book captures moments of a writer's inner and public life, close moments with friends and strangers, occasional reminders of a poet's generally low place in the cultural hierarchy; time spent with cats; the curious work of writing. He tells the stories of his time spent in bookstores and recounts the glorious, then tragic, arc of Cody's Bookstore in Berkeley, ending with the author whose scheduled event fell on the day after the business shut down, but who stood outside the locked door and read aloud just the same. As all writers do, Soto suffers the slings and arrows of rejection, often from unnamed Midwest poetry journals, and seeks the solace of a friendly dog at such moments. Soto jabs at the crumbs of reward available to writers--a prize nomination here, a magazine interview there--and notes the toll they take on a frail ego. The pleasure Soto takes in the written word, a dose of comic relief plus his appreciation of the decisive moment in life make this an engaging and readable writer's confession.