Billy Collins: 'Aimless Love'
Over the past couple weeks, Billy Collins has been reading me poetry in my car. It’s revolutionary. Except it’s not. Audio Books have been around for a long time. Since I don’t have a very long commute I’d never thought of trying them out before. But ever since I switched jobs and no longer commute on the T (Boston-speak for subway), I’ve been having a really hard time finding time to read. OK, maybe the fact that I recently got engaged and started planning my wedding has something to do with having zero free time, but the point is: When to read??
Let me not forget the name of this blog. I realize that there are also flat, flashy devices into which you can beam a book from the clouds and that books are not all made of paper. I am not heading in that direction, and I will not be exclusively listening to audio books from now on. But from time to time, or in-between reading my beloved paper books, I might pop in a book while I’m cruising down Storrow Drive in the morning.
Billy Collins’ new book of poetry, Aimless Love had me at the title: No surprise there. And his audio book is actually read by him, which makes a big difference for poetry especially. The sound of Billy Collins in my car brought a whole new calm to my drive to and from work; his rhythmic reading actually made me forget about the traffic a few times. Of course, there were also times I needed to pay more attention to the traffic, but the beauty was–I could turn off Billy Collins! And I could re-listen to the whole CD again and skip to just the poems I was too distracted to hear the first time. Revolutionary.
Many of the poems in the first half of the book are about poetry or about writing (many from his book Nine Horses and The Trouble with Poetry). There are also many poems from other previous books, and some new poems that fit right in. Several are brimming with Collins-esque humor. For instance, the poem “To My Favorite 17-Year-Old High School Girl,” about his daughter, cites historical figures who at her age had created great works, or made their mark on society. He asks why she can’t just help out around the house a little, in a way only a father can get away with. There’s also a poem called “Oh, My God!” which is a cute poke at the valley girl.
I don’t want to say Collins is at his best when making a joke, but he does a darn good job of it. It also allows him to look closely at things like death or love without the reader feeling he has overstepped his bounds.
I recommend picking up any book by Billy Collins (not that I’ve read them all, so you know, take it or leave it) and maybe try out an Audio Book. It could just be the best legal road rage control.
Gigglers: I’m not going to seek out the newest hardcovers and tell you whether or not to buy them. And while not the Sunday Review, this Sunday blog will explore my brilliant and fascinating thoughts about books. Please use the comments section to share your own thoughts on this book, or whatever you’re reading.
Image from Random House