The Long Take (Paperback)Robin Robertson (author)
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Shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize 2018.
Winner of The Roehampton Poetry Prize 2018
A noir narrative written with the intensity and power of poetry, The Long Take is one of the most remarkable - and unclassifiable - books of recent years.
Walker is a D-Day veteran with post-traumatic stress disorder; he can't return home to rural Nova Scotia, and looks instead to the city for freedom, anonymity and repair. As he moves from New York to Los Angeles and San Francisco we witness a crucial period of fracture in American history, one that also allowed film noir to flourish. The Dream had gone sour but - as those dark, classic movies made clear - the country needed outsiders to study and dramatise its new anxieties.
While Walker tries to piece his life together, America is beginning to come apart: deeply paranoid, doubting its own certainties, riven by social and racial division, spiralling corruption and the collapse of the inner cities. The Long Take is about a good man, brutalised by war, haunted by violence and apparently doomed to return to it - yet resolved to find kindness again, in the world and in himself.
Watching beauty and disintegration through the lens of the film camera and the eye of the poet, Robin Robertson's The Long Take is a work of thrilling originality.
Publisher: Pan Macmillan
Number of pages: 256
Weight: 214 g
Dimensions: 197 x 129 x 18 mm
'The Long Take is like a film noir on the page. A book about a man and a city in shock, it's an extraordinary evocation of the debris and ongoing destruction of war even in times of peace. In taking a scenario we think we know from the movies but offering a completely different perspective, Robin Robertson shows the flexibility a poet can bring to form and style.' - Man Booker judges
'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, The Guardian
'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
'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
'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
'Robin Robertson is a fearless and thrilling poet.' - Marina Warner
'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
;The words flow like the frames of a classic film masterpiece.' - Mike Hodges
'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, The Scotsman
'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, The Sunday Herald
'The Long Take, by Robin Robertson, is a narrative in verse set in the immediate post-war years in America, that is at once heartbreaking and bracing. Think of it as the best black and white 1940s movie you will ever encounter in print.' - John Banville, The Guardian