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.

Wednesday, 21 March 2018

"Deaths of the Poets" by Paul Farley and Michael Symmons Roberts (Jonathan Cape, 2017)

A rather relaxed travelogue, dutifully visiting locations associated with the deaths of many poets, starting with Chatterton, then visiting the States, The Spanish Steps, etc. It's a shame that there are no photos.

There are little bursts of interesting writing - the start of Larkinland on p.102 for example - and some interesting details -

  • "Do Not Go Gentle ..." was written 6 years before Thomas's father's death.
  • "[WCW's] son Bill was called upstairs, examined his father and pronounced him dead, exactly as WCW had done for his own father" (p.216)

I found Olivia Liang's The Trip to Echo Spring about alcoholism more analytical and interesting. There's also "The Savage God: A Study of Suicide" by A. Alvarez.

Other reviews

  • Rachel Cooke (The combination of literary biography and what we might call, for brevity’s sake, psycho-geography seems to me, potentially, a bewitching one – particularly when practised by two brilliant, northern poets. But on the page, it doesn’t work at all, and not only because their narrative is so lacking in clarity and vision, so badly in want of a thesis. There are problems of process, too. Oh, but they will hop around. ... It makes you wonder what all the long train journeys and turbulent flights were really for.)
  • Stuart Kelly (So much material of such innate interest is presented with just the right balance of panache, wit, insight and elegy that the reader easily forgets how tensile and tenuous the strand gathering it all together is. To their supreme credit, they admit misgivings, winningly, throughout, wondering about writing a Footwear Of The Poets and recording a friend’s description of their tour as “holidays on the backs of dead poets”.)

No comments:

Post a Comment