13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars
not your normal single-page poetry, 3 July 2009
You know what's always sort of put me off about reading poetry books? It's that feeling that when I finish a page (and as such, usually, an individual poem) I want to move on to the next, but I know that the next will be wholly different from the one I've just read, so... maybe I should give it a while, and come back later. Is that how poetry should be done?
I don't know about that, but what I do know is that it doesn't apply with this book. Sure, I know narrative poetry has been around for thousands of years (Homer for e.g.), but this book is a little different. It's more a biography than a book of poems. It's more a load of fascinating stories than just a biography. And it's divided up into little episodes, so in one way, you can read it like standard modern poetry, stopping after each section, to reflect, or make a cup of tea, or switch out the light and go to bed; but I doubt you'll be wanting to... other than in wanting to make it last more than one sitting, that is.
It concerns the antics of a boy on the Isle of Skye. He's dyslexic, and since his school doesn't recognise this (branding him stupid or lazy instead) so he gives up on school, bunks education and goes around exploring with his dog instead. But he's anything but lazy. He teaches himself how to survive by living off the land. He catches rabbits and fish and sells them to local butchers and mongers. Of course, he can always go home of whiles, if he's hungry for other fare, but sometimes chooses not to. Of course, activities like this (going-it-alone) have their repercussions sooner or later. Some people like the boy. Others do not. Steps will be taken...
I forgot most of the time that I was even reading poetry... apart from the page layout, of course, and the sparing (but not overly complex) use of words, all very carefully selected and placed, as you'd expect from any good poet. It's not a long book. But it sure is a good one. It's probably quite a bit longer than most other poetry books of its thinness; owing to no spare white space on the pages; where one episode ends, there's a dividing line across the page, and the next episode begins right after it. No titles bar the book's own title. And that title; a little strange at first, but it made a lot of sense in afterthought.
I smiled. I empathised. I laughed. I scowled. I cried. I loved it. And though it won't appeal to absolutely everyone (what book does?) I doubt I will be alone in how much of an effect this book had on me. I'm only waiting now till I forget it enough that I can pick it up and read it again. But it's so vividly written, I fear I wont be able to wait quite that long.