In Amadon's second collection of poems, all narratives center on the city of Hartford—a metaphor for the fact that a person never really leaves home; or perhaps, that home never really leaves a person. A dark and captivating read, The Hartford Book, at its core, has a unique and complex perspective on the themes of friendship and loyalty. In "Vanity, Vanity," a long poem at the book's center, Amadon writes:
I told everyone I'd decided to move out to California where Kenny said he was living but then I heard he was lying & still home & I couldn't see why I shouldn't want to live in Hartford & so I moved in with him & his girlfriend three blocks away from the hospital where I was born & forgot I'd ever been anywhere else
In this book, the poet is not merely the narrator—he is inextricable from the city's stories, is implicated, and, as Richard Howard points out, "suffers as much as any chronicler...for his own pathetic (even ghastly) powers of presence: this is not memoir, it is confession."
This book review originally appeared in American Poets.