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The Long Take
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About the Author

Robin Robertson was brought up on the north-east coast of Scotland and now lives in London. A Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature, he has published five collections of poetry and has received a number of honours, including the Petrarca-Preis, the E.M. Forster Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters and all three Forward Prizes. His selected poems, Sailing the Forest, was published in 2014.

Reviews

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' citation
A beautiful, vigorous and achingly melancholy hymn to the common man that is as unexpected as it is daring . . . 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 *
`Absolutely stunning...his beautiful verse describes things better than any picture could... The language is astonishing.' -- Arifa Akbar * Front Row *
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 . . . This is a major achievement and will linger long in the reader's mind -- Stuart Kelly * Scotsman on Sunday *
Composed in a mixture of verse and prose, The Long Take is a book with a big heart. The beauty of the language will seduce the reader from the very start. How do we put ourselves back together in a damaged world? . . . By taking this long journey west - across New York, San Francisco, Los Angeles - Robin Robertson tells a universal story. With its undeniable beauty; quiet, modest but strong pull, this book will shift something in your soul. By the time you have finished reading it, you won't quite be the same. -- Elif Shafak
As a work of art, this dreamlike exploration is a triumph; as a timely allegory, it is disturbingly profound... One of the first major achievements of 21st-century English-language literature. * Financial Times *
This is a poem-cum-novel by Scottish writer Robin Robertson, the prize-winning author of five previous poetry collections, which is a cinematic road trip through America. It's from the point of view of Walker, a discharged World War II combat vet. Rather than return to Canada at the end of the war, he drifts from New York to Los Angeles to San Francisco. There are flashbacks to the war but he basically walks through an America which changes around him. It's an incredible achievement, showing how poetry can reach the parts narrative prose can't. -- Irvine Welsh * Metro *
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. 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 beauty of The Long Take lies in Robertson's seemingly effortless ability to evoke the magic of cinema on every page . . . One of the most moving records in recent times of human fragility, ambition, injustice, violence, and our deeply troubled path through cities and nature...The Long Take will be remembered for its unparalleled originality, and an uncompromising power of storytelling that transcends the boundaries of film, fiction and poetry. -- Kit Fan * Poetry Review *
Modern, complex, political ... The Long Take is very much in line with the tradition that inspired it, not least when Robertson emphasizes "the dead streets of Los Angeles", and the possibility that the United States, with its hatred of the other, might soon turn fascist... The Long Take's larger theme is the capacity of greed and politics to turn hope into despair. In this way, the poem speaks to the present as well as to the past. * Los Angeles Review of Books *
The words flow like the frames of a classic film masterpiece. -- Mike Hodges, filmmaker, Get Carter, Croupier, I'll Sleep When I'm Dead
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 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
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 * Guardian, Best summer books 2018 *
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. -- Todd McEwen * Sunday Herald *
Robin Robertson's wonderful new book is hard to classify. It would be possible to review The Long Take as if it were a novel, even a thriller of sorts . . . This is a poetic work in which human degradation is afforded fleetingly beautiful expression . . . It reads at time as a secular Pilgrim's Progress and many of it's sequences put me in mind of Denis Johnson's reports from the abyss of drugs and drink. * Literary Review *
The Long Take is written in precise, deliberate English of lyric grandeur. True literature at its most compelling. -- Eileen Battersby
A blisteringly beautiful vision of America rotting in the aftermath of the Second World War . . . Robertson's book is stylish, daring, high concept and amazing. * Evening Standard *

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