Friday, April 23, 2010
Mad Yaks & Everyman & Ariel's Gift
This week's been great - all these books started arriving in the post and then yesterday my youngest son brought up an envelope that my husband had missed: a book that arrived while I was away, before I got sick - The Floorshow at the Mad Yak Cafe! I'd been looking forward to buying this and reading it, but it was a real unexpected surprise to find it already here :)
I ripped open the envelope and was delighted to read Colin Will's work inside - intially impressed by the closing Far Eastern sequence, which includes the title poem; avoids being 'tourist poetry' by the fact of being calm and examining, without trying to judge by Western standards. Others that jump out at me are 'Mr Self-Destruct does not want to workshop today' (great title, huh?); 'Old campaigner,' 'Exiles,' and these are just for starters. I recommend this book, just for the whispering subtlety that is shown in poems like 'The Jewel in the Gym.' Imagined or real emotion-scapes, I think its hard to tell the difference between them; here's a writer who's invested a great deal in the act of imagining and making art from that act. Something about it, which reminded me strongly of the work I'd been reading earlier in the week, Michael Donaghy's Safest.
Other books received: from Michael Farry, (thank-you - so much) a whole block of Roths (could that be a new turn of phrase). I started with American Pastoral, which I found heavy-going, but brilliant at turns. I read the shorter Everyman yesterday and I actually loved it: the grim, gutsy Jewish humour behind every twist and turn of the protaganist's fate. It starts in a graveyard at a funeral, and tells the story of how the bloke in the coffin came to end up there; supplying all his faults and failings in between. As an examination of the life of a man and an exposition on the theme of regret, I thought it was pretty masterful. I did wonder though, if it was a healthy thing to be reading about someone with dodgy health, when my own health is dodgy! I have The Plot Against America to go, but I might wait for a few days; Roths are rich and need digesting.
Currently reading Ariel's Gift, which TFE had a spare copy of, and am reading it in tandem with Birthday Letters and Ariel, which are staring at me from the bookcases in my bedroom. A'sG is meaty and interesting; how we are all obsessed with Hughes and Plath and what happened to them both. Underneath, they were people -deeply flawed, deeply talented, but people. Erica Wagner seems to want to show how Hughes paid for his repression of his part of the experience, but tried to make up for it with Birthday Letters. More on this when I've read it, if I haven't got fed up with it...