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The Next Bend in the Road

The Next Bend in the Road

“In America today there is no lyric work more compelling and well made than To the Center of the Earth,” Allen Grossman wrote ten years ago of Michael Fried’s last collection of poetry. Fried’s new book, The Next Bend in the Road, is a powerfully coherent gathering of lyric and prose poems that has the internal scope of a novel with a host of characters, from the poet’s wife and daughter to Franz Kafka, Paul Cézanne, Osip Mandelstam, Sigmund Freud, Gisèle Lestrange, and many others; transformative encounters with works of art, literature, and philosophy, including Heinrich von Kleist’s “The Earthquake in Chile,” Giuseppe Ungaretti’s “Veglia,” and Edouard Manet’s Le Déjeuner sur l’herbe; and, running through the book from beginning to end, a haunted awareness of the entanglement of the noblest accomplishments and the most intimate joys with the horrors of modern history.