Simon Armitage has already made a name for himself as a poet. Well-known as presenter of Radio 4's Stanza, and to devotees of Mark Radcliffe's former Radio 1 evening show, his first collection of prose shows himself to be a master of that medium as well.
Taking as his point of reference his home town of Marsden in West Yorkshire, Armitage takes us on an engaging tour of the geography, people and places of his area, and offers us an insight into what it means to be a Yorkshireman. But this is no dusty travelogue. Dusty travelogues of Yorkshire, after all, tend not to include accounts of day-trips to Iceland from Leeds Airport, or of amateur dramatic productions. Let alone meeting John Peel and Teenage Fanclub. And it's a strange travelogue indeed that would describe Richard Whiteley as 'the I Claudius of broadcasting'.
While it contains some fiction ('Jerusalem', you suspect, is influenced as much by The League of Gentlemen as by Alan Bennett), the bulk of this collection is autobiographical, from tales of literary cricket matches to intruding on film sets. It's carried off with humour, and yet compassion. Armitage doesn't point and laugh at his subjects - he just observes. One of the great strengths of this book is that it's up to the reader to decide whether the situations described are amusing, tragic, pitiful, or a mixture of all three. This makes for an extremely engaging read.
So it's difficult to know who wouldn't appreciate 'All Points North'. And if Simon Armitage continues to write collections of prose, poetry, or indeed anything, chances are they'll be every bit as good as this one.
Let's hope he does.