Eric Ormsby is a poet who writes prose that is both graceful and hard-headed. With an outspoken contempt for cant and literary persiflage, Ormsby ranges over a surprising array of writers and literatures. Each essay involves a new and sometimes startling viewpoint, whether on Hart Crane’s homosexuality and its effect on his poems or the strange and twisted, yet redeeming, place which Shakespeare held in his own family history. From American and Canadian poetry to Classical Arabic literature Ormsby brings a fresh slant and incisive expression to his prose.rnrnWhat was Franz Kafka doing at a ski resort in the last years of his life and what did he do there besides tobogganing? Everyone knows that Jorge Luis Borges was bookish, but did you know he was bloodthirsty as well? How is Pat Lowther’s posthumous reputation as a poet connected with the brutal circumstances of her murder? These and other mysteries are explored in the 17 elegant essays that make up Eric Ormby’s new book.