Michael Macrone

Book Review
One Last Look at 1996 Treasures
(San Francisco Chronicle, December 29, 1996)

By Patricia Holt

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SF Chronicle Book Review cover

While you're collecting contemporary references, don't miss BRUSH UP YOUR POETRY! (Andrews and McMeel; 255 pages; $18.95), the eighth compact book on language and literature ("Brush Up Your Shakespeare!," "Brush Up Your Bible!") by former San Francisco teacher Michael Macrone.

"Poetry obviously doesn't get the respect it used to," writes Macrone, and yet "hardly a day goes by when you don't either hear or quote a poetic phrase." Not a Bartlett he, Macrone has created a useful one-volume crash course in English-language poetry from Chaucer to T.S. Eliot.

As always, Macrone is fun to read because he's able to dismantle a poem in concise and entertaining ways and reveal anew the poet behind the meter. Without his guidance, we might not know from an excerpt by 16th century poet John Skelton that is "Colin Clout" is "an attack on corrupt, lazy, and stupid clergyment." Nor would we realize that William Cowper, who wrote "God moves in a mysterious way,/ His wonders to perform," struggled "with terrible fits of depression" and was "convinced that he was eternally damned, and that he could have no relations with the Savior, personal or otherwise."

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SF Chronicle Book Review page

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