Dark Waves and Light Matter
Essays

Albert Goldbarth

A master essayist and poet reflects on the nature of change and life

Reviews

"Albert Goldbarth’s writing is . . . phenomenal."
Choice

"A language magician."
American Book Review


"[Goldbarth] writes with artistry and clarity, showing us why his work will be with us for a long, long, time."
Library Journal

"Goldbarth belongs by rights to the company of America’s premiere literary essayists, somewhere between Annie Dillard and Foster Wallace."
Publishers Weekly

"A remarkable book. Goldbarth achieves a kind of literary omniscience that moves through time and space with a rambling interest in humanity and the imagination. . . . Goldbarth amuses us with his far-flung searches, and repudiates the notion that life is a story told in a straight line."
Fourth Genre

"Goldbarth is as astonishing as an essayist as he is as a poet and novelist."
Beloit Poetry Journal

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Description
Albert Goldbarth’s personal essays are known for their marriage of poetically rich language with research into intriguingly arcane corners of our culture. “Goldbarth is a master mixer,” says the Village Voice, and the New York Times Book Review calls his prose “an artful joining of disparate entities into something new that illuminates as it entertains.”

Dark Waves and Light Matter is an energetic, eclectic gathering of Goldbarth’s recent essays. They are part meditations and part short stories, part scholarship and part downright sassiness. A paean to 1950s comic book villains leads, through a visit with Charles Dickens, to a contemplation on the unity of the first day of Creation. Agatha Christie, Timothy Leary, and Pieter Brueghel all contribute equally to a consideration of how the unity of our lives is perforated by tiny moments of disjunction. Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, The Wizard of Oz, and the National Enquirer unlock a study of patricide and UFOlogy.

These essays look squarely at large, tough, all-encompassing ideas, but they don’t ignore the small specifics that multiply into a day, for example, one “lone orchid pressed into an album; its oils have long past stained the paper around it translucent, a wimple of spectral sheen.”

Annie Dillard has said that Goldbarth’s prose is “lively, brilliant, vivid, witty, and informed,” and Dark Waves and Light Matter triumphantly confirms this assessment.

Page count: 192 pp.
Trim size: 5.5 x 8.5

 



Hardcover
List price: $29.95
978-0-8203-2126-4
08/01/1999

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Poet and essayist Albert Goldbarth is widely heralded as one of the most creative voices in contemporary American literature. His work frequently appears in the pages of the New Yorker, the Nation, Harper’s, and the major literary reviews. Over the past two decades, he has published nearly two dozen volumes of poems and essays, including Heaven and Earth: A Cosmology (Georgia), which won the National Book Critics Circle Award for poetry. He has also been a Guggenheim Fellow, the recipient of National Endowment for the Arts Creative Writing Fellowships, and a finalist for the National Book Award. Goldbarth is Distinguished Professor of Humanities at Wichita State University.