An astonishing debut, Nathan McClain’s Scale is a fierce and unflinching look at the bonds between father and son. From Superman’s Fortress of Solitude to Edward Hopper’s Nighthawks, at koi ponds and outside Eden, these poems search for answers to the question “how do we reckon with the past?” Witty, tender, and full of fire, here is a collection from a powerful, assured new voice.
From “Fire Destroys Beloved Chicago Bakery,” from Scale:
How is it that you misread “fire”
as “father”—your father—
come back from the dead,
to sweep, like hard wind, through the building,
to smash, with a Louisville Slugger,
every pastry with which you’d pack
your sweet little mouth, then
flick a lit match into the trash bin?
The entire building
will have to be demolished
because the father took hours
finally to be put out;
it was a stubborn father. Your father
who once, outside a grocery store,
warned you against asking
for anything inside, so you have learned
to keep your appetites a secret….
“…McClain does the difficult work of transforming his stories, of turning his stories into our own. Scale is an incredible debut.”—C. Dale Young
“Just when I’d despaired of reading a poet who writes one line at a time, one poem at a time, assiduous to steer clear of the Big Project or the High Concept, Nathan McClain’s Scale shows up! … he writes poems of real feeling and quiet integrity that are verified by their passionate understanding of how form, emotion, and music entail each other in the best and most lasting art. McClain’s kind of talent is rare in any generation.”—Tom Sleigh
“…Scale allows for the far rarer necessary explorations of male vulnerability, fragility, fear and cycles of upending sorrow…. Scale will not allow its reader to turn away, or deny its harder truth. Scale is a daring, unrelenting interrogation of loss, silence, and longing in the plaintive cry of a son among so many other sons.”—Vievee Francis
“… Although the book carries a lot of heavy subject matter, McClain demonstrates a tenderness unparalleled in other first books in recent memory. …” — Emilia Phillips at On the Seawall: A Book Review Read the full review here.
“…Whether it’s the uninspiring view from his kitchen window, or a busboy clearing a table at a restaurant, or a woman on her cell phone waiting to board a plane, McClain is always wondering about and imagining the lives of others.” Read the full review here.