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This review is taken from PN Review 215, Volume 40 Number 3, January - February 2014.

Malign Savour daniel tiffany, Neptune Park (Omnidawn) US$17.95

Neptune Park is the fourth book of poetry from Californian scholar-critic Daniel Tiffany, best known for his revisionary interpretations of modernist poetics in the light of his varied interests in languages, sociolinguistics, and the history of science and philosophy. Slender and elusive where his criticism tends toward expansiveness, it is recognisably work from the same hand. Apparently taking its title from a defunct seaside resort in the author's home state, the collection unrolls a linguistic surface of multiform detritus, like the kitsch that is Tiffany's current scholarly interest. The following extract is typical:

A repeated phrase glitters on the threshold.
My boyfriends drink out of a dark

green puddle. What is Man
that thou should magnify him?

Then, too, then, too, then, too,
the Bardot girls listen for strangers

back home.  

The threshold of what, you ask? One ready answer - 'of meaning' - seems, by its very deletion, to point almost too cleverly to the book's habitual procedures. And yet, the kitsch alternative - repetition tending towards 'meaninglessness' - seems equally available; in that case, deletion would function as a kind of subliminal double negative, archly designating the book's contents as, for now, not insignificant. Whichever answer we favour, Tiffany is characteristically in no hurry to dispel our uncertainty, to satisfy our desire to know what it is that 'glitters'.
 
Is it going too far to hear in this verb an echo, suitably distorted, of Thomas Gray's eighteenth-century ...


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