Billed in breathless book-jacket hosannas as “a tour de force rarely attempted in contemporary literature,” Matthew Hong’s epic poem is so in form only. Indeed, some of the external signifiers of the classical epic are there (the invocation, for example… sort of ) but the space inhabited by this 315-page poem is almost exclusively, and not surprisingly, the interior world of the poet. Ridden with nostalgia and self-reflexivity, I, Faust is the thoroughly un-epic, all-too-familiar tale of an itinerant, over-educated writer type wandering around foreign cities drinking too much coffee. Thankfully, this particular pose, endemic to a generation, is saved from self-indulgent sentimentality by Mr. Hong’s economic and not infrequently elegant poetic voice. But is this an epic poem? Not really. Labeling a long series of reasonably workable poetic fragments (mined, no doubt, from endless scribbled notes in dozens of coffee- and wine-stained notebooks) as an “epic” seems rather more a marketing strategy than a result of poetic necessity, as does the indulgent use of Mr. Hong’s paintings on the book’s cover: perhaps the one ingredient common to I, Faust and the great epics of classical antiquity is hubris. For his sake, as a poet not without talent, one hopes Mr. Hong has gotten antiquated poetic forms out of his system, so he can start worrying about the content of his poetry.