The Last Usable Hour

It is “always nighttime” in The Last Usable Hour—a series of linked lyric sequences set in a midwinter New York City. At the heart of Deborah Landau’s second collection are epistolary love poems to an elusive “someone.” Here is a haunted singing voice, clear and spare, alone in the dark, alive with memory and desire yet hounded by premonitions of a calamitous future. The speaker in this “ghost book” is lucid and passionate, even as everything is disappearing—the streets deserted, the beloveds gone.

Praise for The Last Usable Hour

“Landau beautifully chronicles this saga of emptiness and loss that plays out against the luminous backdrop of the nocturnal City.”

—John Ashbery

“In this heartbroken yet rough-as-a-just-cut-gem sequence, which takes despair and twirls it in all senses to try and make it spill its cheap undying trick, pain flirts, hysteria is an eros, taffeta begs to be worn as if an outer lining of the soul. The speaker of the last usable hour begs you to use it, every instant of it—urgent, confessing to imaginary crimes, wide awake to the one metaphysical joke, the one at our unique expense; and in a swirl of pain, desire, nasty gods, and sheer pluck, the protagonist of this bold book does just that.”

—Jorie Graham

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