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This review is taken from PN Review 95, Volume 20 Number 3, January - February 1994.

NEWS FROM EVERYWHERE KENNETH KOCH,Hotel Lambosa and other stories (Coffee House Press - available from Paul Green, 83b London Road, Peterborough) £7.70 inc p&p

Kenneth Koch's new book is to be welcomed for it makes a pleasing distillation of all that is most attractive about his wide-ranging oeuvre. It consists of eighty-five stories - set on four continents and in time periods from the 1950S onwards - which are a series of encounters with the charm, wit, surrealism, interpenetration of the social and mythic and the lively apprehension of beauty that give Kenneth Koch's body of work its consistency. Hotel Lambosa not only has the sense of being produced by a temperament that wants the most out of life and the world but also by a writer who loves to be inspired by other artists, be they painters, musicians or poets. Indeed, the book may be said to offer us a different model of inspiration and creativity than the one we are used to in England. A note tells us that Kenneth Koch is 'much indebted … for some of the inspiration to write [these stories] to the Palm-o-the-Hand Stories of Yasunari Kawabata'. This is not, say, Larikin in isolation discovering his poetic voice through Hardy and then continuing in isolation but rather a recognition of a creative 'significant other' as a spur and a permission. The work that results is flattery, homage and in the best sense of the word, imitation.

Kenneth Koch is the second New York poet to have opened a hotel this year but where John Ashbery's Hotel Lautréamont is a place of ghosts, shadows and composite ...

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