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The Very Man

by Charles Boyle

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As a street beggar (Tamerlaine?) in the opening poem warns, a life is no simple narrative with a beginning, middle and end. The Very Man, Charles Boyle's fourth Carcanet collection, is rich in unexpected digressions and conjunctions: Yuri Gagarin and a star of the silent screen, American films and the Eastern Bloc revolutions, D.H. Lawrence and deep-frozen fish, religion and a self-assembly bookshelves kit, Masai initiation rites and suburban adultery, 1812 and office afternoons. Here too are Stendhal in a Paris heat-wave, Muybridge murdering his wife's lover and other portrait sketches that, for all their clarity and cunning, often refuse to distinguish between real and invented lives.… (more)

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As a street beggar (Tamerlaine?) in the opening poem warns, a life is no simple narrative with a beginning, middle and end. The Very Man, Charles Boyle's fourth Carcanet collection, is rich in unexpected digressions and conjunctions: Yuri Gagarin and a star of the silent screen, American films and the Eastern Bloc revolutions, D.H. Lawrence and deep-frozen fish, religion and a self-assembly bookshelves kit, Masai initiation rites and suburban adultery, 1812 and office afternoons. Here too are Stendhal in a Paris heat-wave, Muybridge murdering his wife's lover and other portrait sketches that, for all their clarity and cunning, often refuse to distinguish between real and invented lives.

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