12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
on 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.
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on 4 August 2009
What a truly fantastic find - and a complete breath of fresh air. I came across it on a shelf in Foyles (filed next to Andrew Motion) and was hooked from reading the first few pages. Its more a short novel in poetic form - and theres something quite different and exciting about it. Its a real joy to read full of colour and humour (and there are tears too) and well worth buying.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 8 November 2010
It took me a while to get used to... well, how good this is. Mellifluously written, adopting a kind of clipped free verse narrative style in which not one word is superfluous. A little like Ted Hughes's approach to storytelling. And what an entertaining story. Reminds me a little of Jim Dodge's novella "Fup". Moving, sweet and funny as hell.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 16 September 2013
Poetry is not my thing really but this was a gift from someone who knows better. I was enchanted by it. The story itself is engrossing and the language it is told in is a rare treat; never a misplaced word. The first review here tells all about it but I would rather not reveal anything about this treasure and let it come to you as a delightful surprise, as it came to me.