The Afterlife of Objects is a kind of dreamed autobiography in which the enigmas of an individual mind become universal puzzles. Natural History takes its inspiration from Pliny's encyclopaedic Historia Naturalis, suggesting that a person is like a world, full of mysteries and wonders ñ and equally in need of a compendium of everything known.
"Dan Chiasson has succeeded in writing the poetry many of his generation aim for: free-swinging, gorgeous in phrase, bold in imagination, athletic in movement. What makes The Afterlife of Objects distinctive and distinguished is that in these poems imagination is more than the mere monitor of a language-show. Here, the imagination is an organ of perception, a means of feeling."
"Chiasson drank up all of Horace, and himself became one of the more unruly, more exciting, versions of Horation ñ essayistic, balanced, amicable, and yet dense, even coy, style in contemporary letters."
Stephen Burt, Times Literary Supplement
"Dan Chiasson is a wilfully literary poet ñ one who invokes (and impersonates) writers both classic and modern, meditates on the function of poetry, plays self-consciously with voice and toys shamelessly with time. Yet he can also lay down a clean, unadorned lyric lineÖ There is something serious behind the literary shenanigans ñ an ambition to write larger than any one self stirs the book to life."
Kay Ryan, New York Times Book Review
"How did such white-hot speed of mind meet up with so much affability? In these pages, seduction plays like stand-up comedy; urbanity plays like folk tale; Pliny plays like Buster Keaton; learning plays like seduction as Chiasson makes his case for the re-enchantment of the world."
"Natural History brims over with genuine imagination. In these poems, imagination is a capability, to use Keats's word, and not a random goofing or mere word-salad. It is a way of perceiving."
Washington Post Book World
"Like Emerson's 'transparent eyeball' or that of Pliny, Dan Chiasson's gaze is curious, friendly, and unassumingly all-encompassing. Like William James (another mentor), his distinctions are smooth and profound and capable of sudden crescendos of meaning that are heartbreaking in their intensity."