Nefertiti in the Flak Tower Hardcover – 12 Apr 2012
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'James's verse is both allusive and alluring.' --Sunday Telegraph
A collection of poetry from the great Australian writerSee all Product description
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Clive James is first and last a poet. A surprise perhaps to those who know him chiefly as an urbane television critic (famously on The Observer, recently with The Telegraph). But poetry is his first love and this book must be among his last, considering his health. The real surprise is that James' poetry has got better as he has grown older - not the case with every poet.
Some earlier collections contained poems that are very amusing - see `The Book of My Enemy has been Remaindered', lyrically triumphant schadenfreude - but there were misses too. It seems to me that in `Nefertiti in the Flak Tower' there are almost nothing but hits. (A flak tower, incidentally, is an indestructible concrete edifice erected by the Nazis during World War 2.)
James is also a genuine polymath as his collection `Against Amnesia' showed, at home in many European languages - he has just translated Dante. Yeats, Auden and Geoffrey Hill are among his heroes, and at his best he very nearly deserves to be ranked with them. There are homages to Yeats and Hill in this collection, that to Hill being perhaps more successful than that to Yeats. But there is also a superb ultra-Hollywood burlesque of The Iliad and simpler, meditative and very moving poems about growing old and, more especially, ill. Seeing the scope and variety of his work, Clive James surely ranks as one of the finest poets now writing. And his poetry is finally beginning to get the acclaim it deserves.
"Iliad" is a cracker although I still haven't worked out who all the characters are.
"The Light As It Grows Dark" is just amazing
and how anyone can write poetry about hospital routines amazes me, but it works.
This is one book that will not end up at the back of the shelf waitng for it's turn to go to the charity shop.
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