Poetry in Prose: A Review of ‘The Long Take’ by Robin Robertson

Quite simply, The Long Take is an aching ode to the common man, the war veteran, the constantly-changing cities, and the soot-and-silver movies of the 40s-50s.

A novel written in poetry, this book follows the recently-returned Canadian veteran Walker, on his exploration of the post WWII America and the American dream.

Walker begins his journey in New York, moves to LA and lands a job as a writer for a local newspaper, moves for a while to San Francisco for an assignment.
Everywhere he goes, he observes!
He walks the city at night and details everything he sees, from the sidewalks, bars and banks to the theatres, the movies, and the people.
This city is also riddled with racist-violence, McCarthyism, newfound chaos of the Vietnam War, and more importantly, constant demolition and rampant progress.
Living in a city hell-bent on moving forward, he finds himself unable to move.

Author Robin Robertson masterfully connects Walker’s psychological state and the state of the city around him – with the collapse of the buildings, Walker’s state of mind gives way too.

The narrative is composed mostly of prose stanzas, a few italicized flashbacks to Walker’s war experiences and his life in Nova Scotia, and some diary entries.
This book is a bold literary experiment and a success at that.
But it is most successful in announcing to the world that poetry is alive and thriving!

Time after time, we find Walker looking for himself, sometimes drowned in whiskey, sometimes with others like him, burdened with the horrors of war.
While the American dream is not sure to succeed, will Walker finally find one in the aftermath?

Walker hints to the answer in the last sentence of the book, and it makes for a powerful finish!

Read, because you must!

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