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Trains in the Distance

Literature & Literary Criticism

Description“Paul Zimmer, long one of America’s finest poets, turns out to be a comparable master of prose. In his wonderful book of memory and reflection he has written with exquisite elegance and tenderly brilliant observation about his past, and by his genius he evokes a reader’s past as well. This book is as haunting and lovely as a late-night train whistle from the far horizon.”—Robert Olen Butler

“Over the years Zimmer’s poems have consistently been full of good sense and buoyant humor. Now he has kicked it up some notches and, using his poetic skills, made this sad, funny, quite serious book of prose about trains, childhood, war, education, drinking, jazz, wooden sheds, grass, elephants, the moon, blues, horses, sickness, and so many other things that come together as a satisfying whole. It is a great pleasure to turn these lyrical, finely-written pages.”—Annie Dillard

“Here is an American life remembered faithfully, tellingly, and offered the reader in a compelling, affectingly lyrical voice that touches the mind and heart, both. Here is story after story become, in sum, a rendering through personal expression of a country’s ongoing history. Here is, finally, an autobiography become a literature of social reflection.”—Robert Coles

“This deftly written collection satisfies one of our deepest curiosities: ‘What’s it like being her? Or him?’ Paul Zimmer’s answer takes us there by way of steam engines, gray foxes, dray horses, Big Joe Turner, a French dentist tres sympathetique, tumbledown shacks, Duke Ellington’s riffing to empty seats, and a fellow poet heroically obscure, except in Zimmer’s moving homage. To know ourselves we people-watch lifelong, yet glean only vague suppositions. In contrast, these quietly impressive sketches—so much bigger than their pages—add up to a self portrait humane and intimate as kinship.”—Reg Saner

AuthorBorn in Canton, Ohio, Paul Zimmer worked for forty years in the book business. He is now retired and lives on a farm in Wisconsin and spends part of each year in the south of France. A dozen of his poetry books have been published over the years. This is his second book of prose.