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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon 20 July 2010
"The Song of Lunch" is a narrative poem following a middle-aged publisher as he has lunch in a fondly-remembered Italian restaurant in Soho with a former lover.

The excitement of the opening, with the publisher's sense of freedom and excitement at the lunch date, is gradually replaced with disillusionment, regret, and unpleasant truths.

"The Song of Lunch" is readable and entertaining, both in terms of its story and its language. The awkward conversation between the lovers is horribly real, and as the poem progresses more and more is revealed about the main protaganist, so that one feels one knows him to an uncomfortable extent.

All the details of the restaurant and Soho are carefully rendered, for example in the following description of its former waiting staff:

Massimo's pirate crew,
as he privately thought of them;
some of whose names he knew
while knowing nothing of their lives
beyond the act -
grave, flirtatious,
resentful, brisk, droll -
each brought to the table.

Reid also has a beautiful and striking way of describing even ordinary things, such as the concept of travelling on the eye in the following lines, when the publisher's mind starts to wander in the restaurant:

From that thought idly
on a ride of the eye
around the room -
the bustle, the hubbub -
he travels to the next.

The poem doesn't have a rigid rhyme scheme, instead it relies on half rhymes which create a pleasing effect, catching the reader by surprise and making them linger on certain lines.

This is a work I can imagine reading again and again, savouring the descriptions, and shuddering at the pathos (and bathos). From the exhilaration of the opening lines to the shocking final word, this poem is a triumph.

Finally the publisher, CB editions, has produced a beautiful volume, a matt brown paperback with mustard endpapers.
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on 11 December 2010
I fell in love with this poem when I saw the TV adaptation with Emma Thompson and Alan Rickman, but trust me the book (poem) allows one access into the moment that perhaps the TV adaptation doesn't. You are there leaving the office, walking down the street, in the restaurant, tasting the wine, feeling his discomfort and anguish.....it's endless, I love it!!
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'Song of Lunch' is a short BBC film brought to us by Masterpiece Theatre. It is a film of love lost.

Alan Richman plays 'He', no names mentioned. He is an editor and sometimes poet. He has arranged for a meeting with an old flame, and it turns out, 'She', played by Emma Thompson, left him for someone else. He does most of the narration, telling his tale, a sodden tale it seems. He plans the lunch at an old restaurant they used to inhabit, and he relives the days of yore down to the tablecloths and the owner. It turns out everything has changed, as it is wont to do after 15 years. Strike this as a real negative for him. He starts drinking as soon as he sits down. It appears that liquid meals are his style. She comes in the door, much better looking and dressed than he remembers. In his mind he starts reliving the memories of her. She has to bring him back to the present several times.

"He" however, is stuck in his own mind. As the drinking resumes she makes the statement that he is "out to lunch at your own lunch". That pretty well sums it up. He is very frustrating, you want to kick him or slap his face. We have all met people like this, and it is often that the alcohol brings out their worst side. He is not a likeable person, and he keeps talking. I wanted to say to him, "shut up and let her talk." She has a lot to say and most of it is 'right on'. She remembers correctly and after this lunch she must be thankful that she did not end up with him.

We have a portrait of this couple, the lives they had together and the lives they lead now. She knows him well and tells him that his poetry is not his therapy. It is quite apparent that he needs the latter. He is an insufferable prig from my viewpoint, and I wonder how the rest of his life will evolve. The film's camerawork is superb. It is the faces and the expressions of these two that convey most of the story. Memories are made of this, it seems.

Recommended. prisrob 11-14-11

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on 19 December 2010
This was shown on TV and received mixed, if not a dismissive response in the Newsnight Literary discussion that followed.
The acting and the poetry,with both humour and pignant insights,are excellent and not to be missed.
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on 31 December 2014
'I savoured The Song of Lunch
Which was better by far than a brunch.
It was funny and clever
And I don't think I'll ever
Forget such a mouth-watering munch.'

(Simon R. Gladdish)
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on 15 September 2013
A lunch truly to be consumed at leisure so as not to miss any of the finer flavourings. A real delight. In the words of Oliver Twist "Can I have some more please"!
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on 20 December 2013
Item is in very good condition.
This book is fantastic! Love the author's very original style of writing. Excellent and so funny!
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on 16 February 2016
Enjoyed it, being immersed in a slice of someone's life, interesting range of writing - shame the BBC version isn't readily available
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on 3 April 2014
I saw this on TV and just had to have the book. Brilliant play and an even better book. Enthralling.
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on 3 December 2010
This narrative poem shows in a none to subtle way how an intellectually and emotionally decaying man can make a total fool of himself before a well-preserved ex-lover. The intention to parrallel this with the decline of the London restaurant scene doesn't quite work. The poetry though is clever and often funny and the whole thing is accessible. So I enjoyed reading it, although I can't enthuse over it.
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