I took two more books to Chris the printer this week: Christopher Reid’s The Song of Lunch, Jack Robinson’s Recessional. About the former, absolutely no qualms: told from a male perspective, it’s an episode in the lives of a he and a she, a form of postscript to their relationship that includes both nostalgia and belated, uncomfortable revelation; among other things, it’s poetry occupying territory that might seem more appropriate to fiction or even drama, and showing what more can be done; and it’s delivered with clear-eyed affection.
About Recessional I’m less sure. Politics, stories, literary perspectives, slivers of autobiography, all in 64 pages, and whether it hangs together I don’t know. But worth doing for two reasons. The first is that putting it together has allowed some immediate expression of the anger that this recession mess has brought to the surface, anger not just with the bankers and politicians but with myself, that I haven’t paid sufficient attention, that I’ve been happy to be curled up with my nice books while the ship of state has been steered on a lunatic course. (Timing may have something to do with my feelings here; my children leave school this summer, go out into the world that my generation has shaped for them.) Actually the book isn’t angry enough; but anger is a difficult emotion to use well.
Second reason. Having found myself in the unexpected and most likely temporary position of being able to publish stuff, I’d like to play. On the whole I’d prefer to steer clear of the recipe books on the shelf (new poetry presented in poem-per-page slices, novels cooked in 9-inch cake tins); I’d like to come back from the market with a bag of miscellaneous ingredients and try out new combinations. This is not mass catering; I don’t need to worry about scaring off thousands of readers; I just need to find a few hundred willing to chance it.