Review of The Voice at 3:00 A.M.: Selected Late and New Poems by Charles Simic

I’ve never understood the appeal of Selected Poetry or Stories collections, especially when an author releases multiple a la Bradbury and Harlan Ellison.

The acceptable approach seems to be: Take your favorite ten poems from your favorite five previously published collections and slap on five new poems to justify the publication.

A pet peeve of most bibliomaniacs, I imagine, is having the same pieces across multiple editions. Like when Vandermeer re-anthologized certain weird stories across multiple weird anthologies. Or when you realize all 100 Harlan Ellison books are just scrambled permutations of the same 100 stories in deceptive combinations. The randomness is counterproductive and maddening.

When will Library of America release a Complete Charles Simic? Add to that a Complete Billy Collins. Instead we are forced to abuse our librarians, demanding dozens of tiny compilations, creating immense flow charts of various versions of miniscule works and tables of contents, collating, scouring, amassing, and finally, in the end, giving up.

Simic remains a kinetically rhythmic synthesizer of modern ennui.

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