The Late Parade
by Adam Fitzgerald
Liveright, $23.95 (cloth)

Adam Fitzgerald’s The Late Parade is a rowdy, erudite debut collection. He centers on large questions: How do the “brittle histories” of language entrap and liberate us (“So, taking delight, one is taken by delight”)? What are the possibilities for—and costs of—bringing the high, middle, and low strata of our culture into the same parade, cathedral, courtroom, or bedroom (“A boy in a jockstrap is a joy forever”)? How does the poet’s love of such irreconcilable styles twist the mind and the soul? An extravagant chorus of influences—ranging from Henri Rousseau to Hart Crane, David Lynch to John Ashbery, and, less directly, the litany-rich Bob Dylan of “Sad Eyed Lady of the Lowlands”—echoes in the background of these poems and sometimes speaks. Fitzgerald creates moments of startling sonic and phenomenological complexity: “‘Languor,’ / another mawkish pine, perorates with superb verb.” At times, the effects deployed can feel overwhelming or gaudy, almost mannerist (“real-life lifelessness”), if winkingly so (“I come to cuddle thee”). But the volume’s strongest poems swagger through these challenges. We should be eager to watch what Fitzgerald will do next. This skillful first collection is an assured success, but a part of him seems to yearn for more—or, more accurately, for less: fragile intimacies, small jewels, delicate gestures. He writes, “I’m somewhat unconvinced by the monumentality of it all.”