Customer Reviews

2 Reviews
5 star:
4 star:
3 star:    (0)
2 star:    (0)
1 star:    (0)
Average Customer Review
Share your thoughts with other customers
Create your own review
Most Helpful First | Newest First

20 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Only connect, 13 May 2002
This review is from: The Ice Age: poems (Paperback)
Fans of Paul Farley have been waiting a long time for this, the follow-up to his amazing first collection, The Boy from the Chemist is Here to See You. So the questions are (1) What's it like? and (2) Is it any good? To which the answers are (1) Different and (2) Yes, you bet. On the minus side there are fewer of those visceral moments when Farley transports you to a different dimension with a well-chosen word or phrase. However, check out his description of a fly encountering a window as a "wall of light" and "the tang of a dream you can't forget/so carry around all day". On the plus side we are treated to a greater insight into what occupies Farley's mind in his waking hours. By his own admission this book is calmer and less pyrotechnic, and what we get is something more personal, philosophical and grown-up, and all the better for it. His concerns and his treatment of them are almost Larkin-esque (albeit Larkin on acid) - even down to a mutual interest in "postal districts" - and range from ornithology and oceanography (fowl and fish) to metereology, evolution, extinction and our frozen pasts. There is at least one instant classic, The Landing Stage, a powerful meditation on his mother's degenerating state of mind. In fact as you read on, these themes interweave so that by the end you feel, as Eddie Izzard says, that it all connects. With Farley it certainly does. The Ice Age is, to use 70s prog rock terminology, a slow burner. It's one I'll be coming back to again and again.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No

4.0 out of 5 stars A (mostly) quietly satisfying collection, 20 Nov 2011
Jeremy Bevan (West Midlands, UK) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Ice Age: poems (Paperback)
This, the second volume of poetry from Paul Farley, is by and large a thoughtfully-crafted and keenly observed collection. Farley's particular genius is to use the natural world to `fix' something of the truth of what it is to be human. A photograph of National Gallery paintings, stored in wartime exile in the caves of a Welsh quarry, reveals the stonemasons who guard them, enjoying the fleeting blessing that this brings, `knowing these angels/that people their dark world won't return in this life' (The National in Exile). More darkly, a poem to the declining house sparrow somehow presages an apocalypse of the human race that takes so much for granted, after which `only a starling's modem mimicry/will remind you of how you once supplied/the incidental music of our lives' (For the House Sparrow in Decline).

This approach reaches its apogee with the lyrically sad `The Landing Stage', in which the return to a familiar haunt from childhood evokes a contrast between the confused, locked-in silence of his dementing mother and the clear, changeless sights and sounds of the natural world. The sea in particular is a source of shared childhood memories, and now perhaps the only thing that connects his life with hers, however faintly. `Thorn', too, confronts the difficulty of looking back on our lives, `never the easy flashback/more a tangle to be handled with due care'.

There's great depth here, then, but sometimes I find the changes of tone a bit too abrupt, so that the profound segues into the almost whimsical in a way that jars. While `The Barber's Lull' and `Tunnel' straddle very well the difficult line between the ephemeral and the enduring, freezing inconsequential moments into something more weighty and significant, there were a few poems (`Jungle', `Monkfish' and `Erratic' stood out in this respect) where the lurch from the one to the other is too noticeable, and therefore disruptive. But I'd stress these moments are few - outliers in what is otherwise a quietly satisfying collection.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No

Most Helpful First | Newest First

This product

The Ice Age: poems
The Ice Age: poems by Paul Farley (Paperback - 10 May 2002)
In stock
Add to basket Add to wishlist
Only search this product's reviews