SPIEL OF FORTUNE
Robert P. Baird
It’s easy to forget that American poetry was not always as friendly to the middle class as it is today. In the first half of the last century, a generation of poets who grew up reading Flaubert accepted “Épater le bourgeois as the Second Commandment of their art, just after Pound’s “Make it new.” The postwar economic boom changed everything, of course. Flaubert’s motto continued to animate some, but poets like Robert Pinsky, Robert Hass, and James McMichael proved that the life of the middle class could truly be a subject (and not merely a target) of real art.
Campbell McGrath’s Seven Notebooks offers dispatches from a year in the life of its newly middle-aged author, and like his previous six books, it stands squarely in this latter camp. Unlike those books, however, Seven Notebooks includes dated, diarylike
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