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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars not your normal single-page poetry, 3 July 2009
This review is from: Natural Mechanical (Paperback)
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.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars natural fanatical, 4 Aug 2009
This review is from: Natural Mechanical (Paperback)
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.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Classic, 8 Nov 2010
By 
Ben (London, UK) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Natural Mechanical (Paperback)
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.
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5.0 out of 5 stars I don't read poetry, 16 Sep 2013
By 
Mr. R. M. Tasher (Powys, Wales) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Natural Mechanical (Paperback)
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.
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5.0 out of 5 stars 'See this boy - this Rocky', 13 July 2013
By 
Eleanor (Oxford, England) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Natural Mechanical (Paperback)
"Natural Mechanical" is a 'biographical sketch' in poem form about the early life of Iain Seoras Rockliffe, a man known to the poet for many years. The young Rocky has no truck with school, finding reading and writing almost impossible. He is in his element wandering the Isle of Skye, observing and exploiting its plants and animals. The 'natural' is complemented by the 'mechanical' and Morgan describes with humour and respect Rocky's aptitude with machines as he brings dead cars and lawnmowers back to life and builds a bike from scratch ('the finished article resembles nothing / that has ever been before nor ever after').

When we first meet Rocky he is "Squat body. Crew-cut. Short trousers. Green vest. / Little fists clenched into little pink rocks." As Morgan describes episodes from his childhood he cleverly weaves in the voices of those who knew him and glimpses of the adult he will become. All in all this is a great poem which immerses you in another time, another world, and another life. I am looking forward to reading Morgan's Long Cuts, which is subtitled 'further wanderings in the life of Iain Seoras Rockliffe.
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Natural Mechanical
Natural Mechanical by J. O. Morgan (Paperback - 19 Jan 2009)
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