The Common Man, Maurice Mannings fourth collection, is a series of ballad-like narratives, set down in loose, unrhymed iambic tetrameter, that honors the strange beauty of the Kentucky mountain country he knew as a child, as well as the idiosyncratic adventures and personalities of the oldtimers who were his neighbors, friends, and family. Playing off the books title, Manning demonstrates that no one is common or simple. Instead, he creates a detailed, complex, and poignant portraitby turns serious and hilarious, philosophical and speculative, but ultimately tragicof a fast-disappearing aspect of American culture. The Common Mans accessibility and its enthusiastic and sincere charms make it the perfect antidote to the glib ironies that characterize much contemporary American verse. It will also help to strengthen Mannings reputation as one of his generations most important and original voices.
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