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Skeletons

Paperback / ISBN-13: 9781472158994

Price: £10.99

ON SALE: 6th June 2024

Genre: Literature & Literary Studies / Poetry

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ONE OF THE NEW YORKER‘S BEST BOOKS OF 2023

‘Deborah Landau’s poems make me feel alive. They are the city, the body, the evening drink transformed into pure essence. If you want to be returned to your senses and remember the pleasures of the world, this book is for you’ Alex Dimitrov


‘Landau’s stunning collection Skeletons opens: “So whatever’s the opposite of a Buddhist that’s what I am”, and these are poems wonderfully full of attachments, in love with love, friends, sex, flavours and vistas and language, because “isolation it burns”. Behind it is all is rage against “death, incessant klepto”, but Landau is a first-rate phrasemaker and gets down in words “life, the full force of it / pressing us together good and hard.”‘ Nick Laird


‘Landau captures the ways humans persist, despite our collective anxiety, in our longing for “something tender, something that might bloom”‘ Publishers Weekly (starred review)


‘Landau’s killer wit evokes Dorothy Parker crossed with Sylvia Plath – leaping spark after spark, growing to deadly dark fire’ Los Angeles Times

‘Deborah Landau has developed a style of writing poetry that reminds me of Maggie Nelson and Anne Carson, these long poems that feel dreamy because they are so lyrical’ Boston Globe

Existentialism takes on a glamorous flair in Deborah Landau’s dazzling new collection. Through a series of poems preoccupied with loneliness and mortality, Skeletons flashes with prismatic effect across the persistent allure of the flesh.

Initiated during Brooklyn’s early lockdown, the book reflects the increasingly troubling simultaneity of Eros and Thanatos, and the discontents of our virtual lives amidst the threats of a pandemic and corrosive politics. Spring blooms relentlessly while the ambulances siren by. Against the mounting pressure that propels the acrostic ‘Skeletons’, a series of interstitial companion poems titled ‘Flesh’ negotiate intimacy and desire.

The collection culminates in an ecstatic sequence celebrating the love and connection that persist despite our fraught present moment. Shrugging off her own anxiety and disillusionment with characteristic humour and pitch-perfect cadence, Landau finds levity in pyrotechnic lines, sonic play, and a wholly original language, asking: ‘Any way outta this bag of bones?’

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Reviews

Throughout this collection, Landau's stereoscopic vision splits: one eye stares into the void; the other stays trained on the luxuries that embodiment allows and mortality quickens. This double sense of life-in-death manifests in nearly every poem . . . These poems are conversational memento mori, sprinkled with chatty, O'Haraesque bursts right out the gate: "Sorry not sorry, said death." The voice is delightfully propulsive - and compulsive - as it works against the potential monolith of the acrostic form. The surprising line breaks and enjambment teeter asymmetrically to exhilarating effect
Poetry Foundation
'Landau's stunning collection "Skeletons" opens: "So whatever's the opposite of a Buddhist that's what I am", and these are poems wonderfully full of attachments, in love with love, friends, sex, flavours and vistas and language, because "isolation it burns". Behind it is all is rage against "death, incessant klepto", but Landau is a first-rate phrasemaker and gets down in words "life, the full force of it / pressing us together good and hard."
Nick Laird
By turns melancholy and exuberant, but always fuelled by formal and sonic play, this collection - structured around a sequence of "Skeleton" acrostics, punctuated by a series of "Flesh" interludes - measures the fact of mortality against the pleasures and possibilities of being alive
New Yorker
Deborah Landau's poems make me feel alive. They are the city, the body, the evening drink transformed into pure essence. If you want to be returned to your senses and remember the pleasures of the world, this book is for you
Alex Dimitrov
In her shining fifth collection, Landau chooses the somewhat unexpected acrostic form as a container for her punchy riffs on modern life . . . A resonant commentary on loneliness and mortality
Publishers Weekly (starred review)
An unnerving, strangely erotic reminder of what the pandemic felt like . . . a perfect reflection of those months of enforced intimacy amid the threat of death
Washington Post
Landau's earthy, angsty poems - about sex and mortality and cosmic despair - are insistently quotable, and more fun than they have any right to be. One opens with a line Emily Dickinson might have written, had she been on Twitter: "Sorry not sorry, said death"
New York Times Book Review
Landau's stunning collection Skeletons opens: "So whatever's the opposite of a Buddhist that's what I am", and these are poems wonderfully full of attachments, in love with love, friends, sex, flavours and vistas and language, because "isolation it burns". Behind it is all is rage against "death, incessant klepto", but Landau is a first-rate phrasemaker and gets down in words "life, the full force of it / pressing us together good and hard."
Nick Laird