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Darlington's Fall: A Novel in Verse

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Darlington's Fall: A Novel in Verse

Current Status:
In Season
Brad Leithauser

We gave it a B-

Leithauser is a poet and a novelist, and in this botched romantic experiment, he practices both forms at once. In 1898, curious young Russel Darlington, the son of an Indiana widower, discovers on his wrist the ”world’s most beautiful butterfly: a thing/Whose colors go well beyond astonishing,” and develops a passion for lepidoptera that leads to a career in entomology. We take this enthusiasm on faith, for the author renders it — like the hero’s hopeless marriage and his bone-shattering jungle adventure — palely. As haphazard rhythms and workaday rhymes advance the straight and narrow narrative — in one stanza, Leithauser gives Darlington’s wife a perfume/bloom and a lips/fingertips — we get glimpses of an exotic bug that never quite wriggles out of its cocoon. B-