Helpful votes received on reviews: 90% (28 of 31)


Top Reviewer Ranking: 155,592 - Total Helpful Votes: 28 of 31
What W. H. Auden Can Do for You (Writers on Writer&hellip by Alexander McCall Smith
12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Delightful, 18 Sep 2013
I got this book the day it came out in the US, where I'm currently staying. I've never read Alexander McCall Smith's fiction, but he grabbed my interest by writing about Auden. The book is short and sweet, as are its chapters, and it's refreshingly human and unpretentious. It's a mix of introduction to the poet, memoir about the author's discovery of him, and heartfelt reflection on Auden's genius and its prevailing relevance even as the world advances ever more into the future he feared. A great starting place for a newcomer to his poetry, and a lovely reminder of what is so great about WHA for those of us who've read him from a young age.
Girl, 20 (Penguin Modern Classics) by Kingsley Amis
5.0 out of 5 stars Neglected Masterpiece, 15 May 2013
In the Amis canon, it's generally agreed that Lucky Jim and the Old Devils are the twin peaks; but I think that Girl, 20 is his neglected masterpiece.

The plot shadows the disgraceful private life of composer Sir Roy Vandervane through the eyes of a journalist friend of his. Amis's eye for detail and innate understanding of the power of embarrassment make for great satire: Vandervane is repulsive, funny, hypocritical and a joy to watch crash and burn, and, as Jacobson says in his introduction, the final chapter's title, All Free Now, has never made freedom sound so deplorable. A serious gem, and one that should be read not just by Amis fans but by anyone who appreciates wit,… Read more
Early Poems and Juvenilia by Philip Larkin
Early Poems and Juvenilia by Philip Larkin
4.0 out of 5 stars Subjective Verse, 8 April 2013
This is a very special collection of poems: the book contains a ton of Larkin's early work and scribblings - some contain traces of the young genius visible in his first collection The North Ship, whilst others are more self-evidently trivial works.

Larkin is a poet greatly loved by very many people, and that would be my recommendation for this book: if you are a Larkin fan, you will find it fascinating; if you are not, then this will simply seem a collection of very junior works. It's great within its context.

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The Stairwell by Michael Longley
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