HOTEL INSOMNIA by Charles Simic (Harcourt Brace Jovanovich). The haunt of distant East European memory mingles with present nocturnal desolation in these poems to create a sleepless awareness of life's arbitrariness and terror. Sleepwalking in "the same old city, the same old street," wee-hours' sounds from a seedy hotel where "A few evenings a month/A crippled old man came to play "My Blue Heaven" are repetitive refrains that Simic, who won the Pulitzer Prize for "The World Doesn't End," cannot abandon because there is such a need to remember: "The trembling finger of a woman/Goes down the list of casualties/On the evening of the first snow./The house is cold and the list is long./All our names are included."
The Los Angeles Times Book Prize finalists and winners are selected in each category by an independent panel of judges. Winners will be announced in the Book Review issue of October 31.