The Long Take

Robin Robertson

2018 Nominee

Roehampton Poetry Prize

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22 February 2018
9781509846894
0 pages
Synopsis

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.

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

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