"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."
"Goldbarth belongs by rights to the company of America’s premiere literary essayists, somewhere between Annie Dillard and Foster Wallace."
"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."
"Goldbarth is as astonishing as an essayist as he is as a poet and novelist."
—Beloit Poetry Journal
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.
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