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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Typical, 30 Aug 2012
By 
Glenn "Omaha" (Devon England) - See all my reviews
(TOP 1000 REVIEWER)   
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This review is from: As Far as I Know (Hardcover)
Roger McGough's latest poetry collection 'As Far As I Know' is typically accessible, witty, nostalgic, linguistically playful, poignant, hilarious, candid, and at times unashamedly sentimental.

Starting with that final of these many listed and other attributes, the poem 'To Sentimentality' confronts this confessional frailty with charm and humour,

'Tears for the father giving away the bride
Tears for the snowman in the rain outside
Two Cs and a D and I'm bursting with pride'

McGough has always had the knack of wrapping the familiar and simple in pleasing rhyme, but also to make these everyday factors meaningful in their honest presentation and/or celebration.

The poem 'Window Gazing' is classically McGough: a sequence of poetic puns and imaginings, for example these 2 from 30,

'Haberdasher's window

Pulling our eyes
over the wool

Window-shopping

Went window-shopping
Bought a sash, two casements
and a uPVC tilt & turn'

There is a similar treatment in the sequence of poems 'Indefinite Definitions' where the entire alphabet is used for more playful treatment,

'Cute

A cute is sharp, knows all the angles
When it suits, is eager to please
In a tight corner, no angel
Will squeeze you, this one, by degrees'

and then there's the final poem sequence 'And So To Bed' where the playing with words [each poem making more sense in the context of the whole] is less of a game,

'Death Row Bed

The electric blanket
is still used in Nebraska
Tennessee and Alabama'

In further illustrating these typical poetic characteristics, here's McGough at his concrete best,

'Poem on the Underground

tu be

or not

tu be'

So this collection deals in and with the light and fluffy, but McGough also confronts weightier subjects like his own ageing and the realities of death, as he has in more recent publications. This gets an apparently personal if anonymous referencing in the following,

'Tomatoes

Out on the sunny patio, the Gro-bag.
Scattered on the compost, your ashes

Come spring, young shoots will rise
and the fruit, like church bells

ring from the vines. Tomatoes,
if not with the taste of you in them

at least, ripening with memory'

and is explored further and even more personally - but always with that wry tone that keeps its distance from despair - in the poem 'Beyond Compare' which employs the ruse of being instructions to a loved one about seeking a new love after his death, and is exemplified in these three stanzas,

'For you to find another leading man
would not be unreasonable, given your age
An understudy who has been biding his time
learning my lines below stage

But don't be rushed. Should he move in
take your time and find the space
To enlighten this Johnny-come-lately
so that from the start he knows his place

Put our wedding portrait on the bedside table
but don't make of it a shrine. Rugby shield
and team photos on the piano. Tennis cups?
One of our mixed doubles would be fine.'

That last line is the consummate McGough quip: toying with the ordinary to make such an everyday metaphor deliver a gentle but memorable punch. It is that very lightness of touch which seems so honestly effective.

The last poem I will refer to is 'Not for Me a Youngman's Death' which continues to pursue this theme, but is especially interesting as it revisits and rewrites McGough's 1960s poem 'Let Me Die a Youngman's Death', that original poem railing against old age and dying of that age and its consequences - most arguments again wrapped in comic illustrations, for example 'When I'm 73/and in constant good tumour' - ending with the two lines

'not a curtain drawn by angels borne
`what a nice way to go' death'

I won't print this latter version's punchline, but well over 40 years later, the perspective has changed and the hyperbolic bravado of a dramatic death is now much less appealing,

'Not a slow fade, razor-blade
bloodbath in the bath, death.
Jump under a train, Kurt Cobain
bullet in the brain, death'

Rest assured, in this collection McGough is typically joyously alive and kicking poetic sand in our faces, even if it is with an old man's sandals. This is a lovely collection of his latest poems.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Very profound and beautiful, 4 Feb 2013
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This review is from: As Far as I Know (Hardcover)
Mr McGough's poetry in this book is touching, beautifully written and crafted. There is an eloquence to his considered use of words and the pathos in them. If you lover Roger McGough, buy this as a valuable addition to your collection. If you don't know his poetry, buy it anyway, you'll enjoy it.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Poems, 24 Dec 2012
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This review is from: As Far as I Know (Kindle Edition)
I am so pleased I have this book , some of the poems are exquisite especially the one called Grandma and the angels
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5.0 out of 5 stars Top Stuff, 3 Jun 2014
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This review is from: As Far as I Know (Paperback)
RMcG at his entertaining best. Really enjoyed reading over and over again. Such accurate observations on life all presented in his great style.
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5.0 out of 5 stars As good as ever, 23 Feb 2014
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Gave it as a gift and recipient was thrilled - McGough still does it. He has always been a peoples poet.
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4.0 out of 5 stars As good as ever, 13 Sep 2013
By 
Mr. David J. Silk (Cumbria, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: As Far as I Know (Paperback)
Roger McGough's insightful and humorous skill is as strong as ever. Even the front cover (and the eponymous poem) have a poetic ambiguity!
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5.0 out of 5 stars Poetry, 15 Aug 2013
By 
K. Slater (Lancashire, UK) - See all my reviews
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I bought thus book for my wife and she likes it a lot - as I do too. Roger McGough is a very funny writer. You can read and re- read his material and enjoy it every time.
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5.0 out of 5 stars enjoyable to read and re-read., 19 Mar 2013
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always a favourite writer of mjne I find this material absolutely up to his usual quality. Such development over the years.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Typical McGough, 1 Dec 2012
By 
Prof D. Haslam "David H" (Huntingdon, UK) - See all my reviews
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If this is the sort of thing you like, you'll like this sort of thing. And I love it. Typical McGough is praise indeed
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4.0 out of 5 stars Another excellent set of poems, 24 Sep 2012
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Although a bit thin on content still some lovely things - especially Grandad's "Wobblies" and the hilarious "And so to bed"
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As Far as I Know
As Far as I Know by Roger McGough (Paperback - 25 July 2013)
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