SHORTLISTED FOR THE MAN BOOKER PRIZE 2018
Walker, a young Canadian recently demobilised after war and his active service in the Normandy landings and subsequent European operations. Suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder, and unable to face a return to his family home in rural Nova Scotia, he goes in search of freedom, change, anonymity and repair. We follow Walker through a sequence of poems as he moves through post-war American cities of New York, Los Angles and San Francisco.
The lyric poem, common to these times, can be said to contain a tiny story. Having held his readers in the grip of many small tales, Robin Robertson now launches into a full narrative telling, which is alive with the details of post-war American life as well as the jumpy subjective life of its protagonist. The Long Take will thrill you with its shadowy mysteries and cinematic intensity. -- Billy Collins The Long Take remarkably captures linguistic styles of 1940s American writing - Saroyan and Steinbeck. As it progresses into the mid-50s we're hearing Ginsberg and Baldwin...you will be washed in all these when you read this poem... Robertson has chosen a supremely uncomfortable, recognizable flashpoint in US history, an almost perfect mirror image of the nation today: crude, newly unleashed material ambitions mix with off-the-chart levels of fear and paranoia. The only difference is that then it was Russkies and immigrants, and now, uh . . . -- Todd McEwen * Sunday Herald * The Long Take shows it is perfectly possible to write poetry which is both accessible and subtle, which has a genuine moral and social conscience . . . Robertson manages a remarkable strike rate for keeping the language unsettling and honed, often by judicious assonance and alliterations . . . This is a major achievement and will linger long in the reader's mind -- Stuart Kelly * Scotsman * The words flow like the frames of a classic film masterpiece. -- Mike Hodges, filmmaker, Get Carter, Croupier, I'll Sleep When I'm Dead Robin Robertson is instantly recognisable as a poet of vivid authority, commanding a surprised, accurate language of his own. The evocative truth and the crystalline ring of his words, line by line, make a kind of hope in themselves. -- W.S. Merwin Robin Robertson is a fearless and thrilling poet. -- Marina Warner
The Long Take is a bullet of a book. It is deeply noir, scything open post-war Los Angeles to show us a living, breathing city: a complicated social setting with cinema layered into its very fabric, a place growing at the expense of many of its most vulnerable citizens. It is a bold book - both imaginative and brave - but, more than that, it is a book that hits its target. It flies. It feels true. -- Ryan Gattis, author of All Involved
Like all of Robertson's work, I approached The Long Take with great anticipation, for few writers so expertly pull the curtains back on the many collective fictions, both ancient and new, that constitute our understanding of the world. All of Robertson's extraordinary gifts as a writer are on display here: his probing intelligence and wit, the strangely tactile beauty of his lines, and his stubborn refusal to ignore all that lingers unaccounted for at the edges of our vision. I was genuinely bowled over by it. -- Kevin Powers, author of The Yellow Birds An inter-genre tour de force, The Long Take is a restless reimagining of conventional poetics. Through the poem's protagonist, Robertson has cast a national, cultural, psychological and class outsider of vibrant and seedy post-war America into a palpable anti-hero eerily resonant with our contemporary world. With syncopated rhythms, staccato dialogue and jump-scenes, the book weaves dizzying, jazz-like meditations on PTSD, masculinity, betrayal and salvation by embodying, in sound, scent and sixth-sense, one of America's most hopeful and devastating decades. The result is a ravishing achievement. -- Ocean Vuong, author of Night Sky with Exit Wounds, winner of the T.S. Eliot Prize
Robin Robertson, one of the finest lyric poets of the age, flexes his artistic reach in a continuous narrative of more than two hundred pages, a beautiful, vigorous and achingly melancholy hymn to the common man that is as unexpected as it is daring. Here we have a poet, at the peak of his symphonic powers, taking a great risk, and succeeding gloriously... The Long Take is a masterly work of art, exciting, colourful, fast-paced - the old-time movie reviewer's vocabulary is apt to the case - and almost unbearably moving. -- John Banville * Guardian *