Literary reviews by Tim Love.
Warning: Rather than reviews, these are often notes in preparation for reviews that were never finished, or pleas for help with understanding pieces. See Litref Reviews - a rationale for details.

Monday, 10 May 2004

"The Ice Age" by Paul Farley (Picador, 2002)

I know I shouldn't bother with the blurb but again the term "formally gifted" appears. True, there's a variety/awareness of forms, and they're unobtrusive, which to some people is a sign of skill. But they're also rather hard to discern, with non-rhymes and half-rhymes added rather randomly. Rhyming pairs like "hill/bottle", "born/London", "roses/hours", "abandoned/Austin" appear. "Dead Fish" might or might not rhyme the 1st line with the last, the 2nd with the next to last, etc - it's hard to tell, but I presume there must be some reason for the line-breaks (in particular the paragraph break). "The Glassworks" is right-aligned (well, why not? It just about suits the content) with rhymes like "heights/fit". The language doesn't feel "under pressure". Page 13 has terza rima with rhymes like "fade/thread/code" and "lost/tests/past" scattered amongst stronger rhymes. What do the stronger rhymes signify?

All the same, I like his imagery, observation and associations even if he does use too many words. E.g.

A tunnel, unexpected. The carriage lights
we didn't notice weren't on prove their point
and a summer's day is cancelled out, its greens
and scattered blue, forgotten in a instant

that lasts the width of a down, level to level,
a blink in London to Brighton in Four Minutes
that dampens mobiles - conversations end
mid-sentence, before speakers can say

'...a tunnel' - and the train fills with the sound
of itself

Even "Umbrella" has its moments, though "Relic" is going too far.

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