Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “The Long Take” as Want to Read:
The Long Take
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

The Long Take

3.96  ·  Rating details ·  558 ratings  ·  120 reviews
Walker, a young Canadian recently demobilised after war and his active service in the Normandy landings and subsequent European operations. Suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder, and unable to face a return to his family home in rural Nova Scotia, he goes in search of freedom, change, anonymity and repair. We follow Walker through a sequence of poems as he moves th ...more
Hardcover, 237 pages
Published February 22nd 2018 by Picador
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about The Long Take, please sign up.
Popular Answered Questions
Scott It's a threat to spank the child with a spatula.
Ken Muir Imagine your head's normal everday feeling without a hangover or headache. The skin round your forehead is a relaxed comfortable fit and moves easily.…moreImagine your head's normal everday feeling without a hangover or headache. The skin round your forehead is a relaxed comfortable fit and moves easily. Now imagine if that same skin were buttoned tight, straining against your skull, and the seams and buttons were all digging in.
That sense of tightness associated with hangovers is what I think is meant here.

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Rating details
Sort: Default
Jul 23, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2018-mbp, 2018-read
Well-deserved Winner of the Goldsmiths Prize 2018
Wow, the poetic vision of this book is simply brilliant - what a haunting, atmospheric, and perfectly composed text! Robertson tells the story of a Canadian soldier who fought at the Western front in WW II and comes to the US to make a life for himself - or is it to get lost and to forget?

Our protagonist bears the telling name Walker, and he finds a new purpose as a newspaper reporter, roaming the city and covering mainly social issues, especiall
Jul 28, 2018 rated it really liked it
Winner of the Goldsmiths Prize 2018
Shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize 2018

This is my second book from the Booker longlist. I was already aware of Robertson as a poet having heard him on the radio and through a CD called Hirta Songs, a collaboration with the Scottish folksinger Alasdair Roberts that mixed songs and spoken poetry, telling the story of the last inhabitants of St Kilda.

This book is a bold experiment - it has the narrative arc of a novel but it is largely told in free verse. At its
Gumble's Yard
I've travelled a fair bit. The Canadian Maritimes
that's where I'm from. I know that coastline, down to Maine.
I signed up, trained up in England, then fought in Normandy,
then on through the low countries. Germany
After the war I worked in New York City for eighteen months
and now I'm here. I read all the time. Novels, history,
I'm interested in films and jazz. Cities
'Yes American Cities'
'What about American Cities'
'How they fail'

Now winner of the 2018 Goldsmith Prize as well as shortlisted
Aug 12, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Antonomasia by: 2018 Booker longlist
I bloody love long narrative poems, and I wish there were a lot more modern novels in this form. Not sure why I find poetry faster to read - know it isn't the case for everyone. For me, it goes straight into the veins, and it omits the extraneous, leaving only the most vital impressions. Or maybe it's the presentation: shorter lines and more white space on the page make it visually easier to take in.

It was the form that made me keen to read this, but the US setting held little interest. If a pr
Is it prose, poetry, a prose poem, narrative verse, a novel with many artful line breaks ? - I don't know but it is rather beautiful and achingly sad.

The Long Take is many things, a primer on late 1940s early 50s noir film as well as a beautiful evocation of cities in a state of flux. It’s about one man’s descent into post war despair. It also does rather a great job in describing shadows.

he walked the monochrome world of the city, after hours, in the dissipating heat. watching his shadow feed
Jul 27, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: poetry
The Long Take is a moody work combining verse and prose to depict a crumbling post-war America. It flickers between protagonist Walker’s present - the New York, Los Angeles and San Francisco of the late 1940s through the 1950s - and his recent past in Europe fighting in WWII, with occasional glimpses of his earlier bucolic home life in Nova Scotia.

The book fairly crackles with atmosphere and noir-ish sensibility. I especially enjoyed the early cityscapes, captured with cinematic vividness. Rob
Dan Friedman
Aug 08, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Robin Robertson’s The Long Take demanded a new type of reading for me. I started reading it as poetry or as Psalms, reading short passages slowly and then immediately rereading them. But at that leisurely pace, I soon realized that The Long Take would dominate my fiction reading for weeks or even months, leading me to spend the entire Booker season on this one novel alone. So while I started slowly, I finished it more rapidly, as a contemplative yet compelling read.

The Long Take is multi-layered
Britta Böhler
Aug 06, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Absolutely brilliant!
Paul Fulcher
Sep 13, 2018 rated it it was ok
'I'm interested in film and jazz. Cities.'
'Yes, American cities.'
'What about American cities.'
'How they fail'

Shortlisted for the 2018 Man Booker prize and now winner of the 2018 Goldsmiths Prize, The Long Take is, in the author's word, a narrative poem.

The novel, set in the decade after World War II, is narrated Walker, a traumatised Canadian veteran. His reminiscences on the Normandy D-day landings forms a spine to the novel as, in the novel's present day, he drifts from New York t
Maddie C.
Aug 04, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: booker-2018, poetry
“ I’m interested in films and jazz. Cities.’
‘Yes. American cities.’
‘What about American cities?’
‘How they fail.’ ”

The Long Take is an incredibly raw look at the post-war experience, illustrating the particular trials and tribulations felt after the second world war ended, specifically as the veterans of the war returned to their home countries and tried to rebuild their lives. Written in verse, an epic of mini proportions, Robin Robertson lyrical writing conjures beautiful images
Sep 21, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: best-of-2018
There is so much going on in this book, and all of it is good. The Long Take is so deserving of its place on the 2018 Man Booker Shortlist. I was hesitant about reading this- I’m always wary of extended narratives written in verse. I often find it gimmicky; that either the form or narrative suffers. This is not the case with The Long Take.
This book is about many things: post-war America, the veteran experience, isolation, poverty, and most interestingly to me, the life of cities. As an unapologe
Aug 03, 2018 rated it it was amazing
4.5 stars, rounded up.

I don't read a lot of poetry and the last verse novel I read was Vikram Seth's Golden Gate, which came out many years ago. But I was intrigued by the reviews and when it made the Booker longlist I moved it up the TBR. Robertson is a highly acclaimed poet, one of two people who has won the Forward Prize for poetry in three different categories.

This is a true verse novel, in my opinion. It is written primarily in poetic form (with short prose sections) but it has the struct
Jerrie (redwritinghood)
Aug 24, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This is another fantastic Man Booker longlist pick. Moody and atmospheric, this poetry perfectly captures 1950s LA noir. A WWII veteran suffering guilt and PTSD travels to LA as it undergoes the changes that make it into a modern city of roads, parking lots, and homeless soldiers. Interspersed with flashbacks of the war, language is used expertly to evoke post-war America with its racism, fear of communism, and race to modernize.
Oct 15, 2018 rated it liked it
Hmm. I seem to be in the minority in not being completely enamored with this novel in verse, though in a lot of ways it's certainly an impressive feat. Robin Robertson's writing is elegant and immersive, the tone is achingly sad, and he uses the form to explore a myriad of subjects - PTSD, the development of post-war America, the advent of cinema... There's a lot of content packed into this little book, but while I found myself impressed by many aspects of it, there was also something a bit empt ...more
UPDATE: Now re-read after its inclusion on the Goldsmiths shortlist and confirmed as a 5 star read. This time I found it even more poetic and devastatingly heartbreaking in its depiction of a man struggling with PTSD and in its depiction of racism in post-war America. Maybe more to come when I get back from holiday and am not typing on my phone.


It is hard to comprehend the horror of war if you have not experienced it. I know it is beyond me. In WWII, millions of people died, others survived.
Jonathan Pool
There are many ways to approach writing a review of The Long Take.
It’s a great, multi faceted work of fiction and one that is a novel, in a conventional sense, rather than poetry dressed up as prose. This despite the book’s livery describing it as ‘Picador Poetry” and despite the fact that Robin Robertson has an established, an esteemed, reputation writing poetry.

I particularly liked the fact that The Long Take provided a number of easily understood points of reference. I’m not American, but my
Katie Long
Aug 28, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Oh, another gem from this year's Man Booker longlist. In this novel length poem, a Canadian WWII veteran is trying to rebuild his life while haunted by the fear that he has lost part of himself forever. From New York, to L.A., to San Francisco, he finds a country that seems to believe it has moved on from the war that he can't forget, but there is clearly fear at the root of all of the consumerism and commercialization. A beautiful, brooding book that I would recommend to anyone. Even if you thi ...more
Eric Anderson
Oct 13, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Robin Robertson is a Scottish writer who has published several successful collections of poetry. His book “The Long Take” is described on the inside flap of the dust jacket as “a noir narrative written with the intensity and power of poetry.” I'm all for cross-genre novels and blended forms of writing. I don't think categorization of books makes an impact on the actual reading experience. But I do get slightly anxious when self-proclaimed poets write books which are classified as novels as I des ...more
Aug 19, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Aug 22, 2018 rated it it was amazing
4.5* rounded up. Thoughts to follow once I get my head around it and after I see the author in person next week (it was pretty bleak but great).

Updated 30/8: After seeing an interview, hearing Robin Robertson read in his dramatic Scottish accent and speaking to him about this book and other’s I give all the stars. 5**
I really feel I need to read this again with his voice in my head and appreciate all the little nuances and themes he discussed.

These were his thoughts that struck me the most:
- Thi
Sep 30, 2018 rated it really liked it
Poetry and the Second World War - two things I often struggle with in books. I needn't have worried. The Long Take is a stunning look at how the War impacted upon one man, Walker, a Canadian soldier who was demobilised after fighting in Normandy. Dreading the prospect of going home to rural Nova Scotia, we follow Walker as he moves to New York, and later LA and San Francisco, and experience his PTSD (flashbacks to which increase as the story progresses).

I think the poetic telling of the story wo
Oct 10, 2018 rated it really liked it
The paper said he could try out on movie reviews, 
so he went to see
Deadly is the Female in the Cameo, or the Star, 
one of those theatres next to the Arcade. 
He thought about it all night. That long take 
inside the getaway car: one shot lasted three minutes easy 
and was just real life, right there.

The Long Take is another Man Booker shortlist title that I wouldn't have picked up if not for its place on that list; another book this year that challenges my idea of what makes a “novel”. Written as
Sep 02, 2018 rated it really liked it
I'm generally not fond of poetry, but this transcends the genre in not getting overly flowery in its language, and having a strong narrative drive. I really liked the noirish elements, and especially enjoyed the glimpse of my native San Francisco around the same time I appeared on the scene there as a baby (yay shout-out to Spenger's Fish Grotto, may it RIP). I could have done without some of the more gruesome passages, especially the war scenes, but appreciate why they were necessary. Don't hav ...more
Jun 09, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites, poetry
This book speaks to my heart. Achingly beautiful.

And on to Alameda and Chinatown
till he found the path that climbed to there Stone Quarry hills
up through fields and houses of the new pueblo to the high ravines,
Chavez, Sulphur, and Cemetery, Solano and Reservoir,
to Mount Lookout in between.
And he stood there, far over City Hall--
over the lights of Los Angeles--
as if the whole sky and all the stars had fallen:
displayed, spread out below
in a flickering maze,
this bed of moving embers.

Robertson’s pro
Aug 03, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I keep bumping this one up. Now a full 5 stars.
Aug 07, 2018 rated it really liked it
Sep 27, 2018 rated it really liked it
Walker is a veteran suffering from post traumatic stress disorder after the 2nd world war. Drifting alone from the East to the West Coast of America, he gets a job for a paper documenting the homeless in the cities whose histories are being torn down to make space for the new.

Robertson’s poetry is beautiful, though his images are terribly sad and often revolting. He really captures the desperate situation of these traumatised young men, who have seen horrific things and are now being left to dr
Nov 04, 2018 rated it really liked it
From the Man Booker short list, an eerie verse poem—a tour de force of language, PTSD, homelessness, Hollywood and a transforming Los Angeles in the post WWII era.
Daniel Sevitt
Oct 13, 2018 rated it really liked it
Undeniably noir. Less convincingly poetry, at least to this poor reader of poetry. Actually it reminded me of James Ellroy who has covered a fair bit of this kind of 40s in L.A. ground and has made a reasonable stab at noir poetry himself in books like White Jazz. Robertson is more concerned here with the city and how it is failing its inhabitants and its homeless. There is a real sense of urgency as the rise of McCarthyism mirrors the creeping sense of unease about modern America and how it is ...more
Aug 21, 2018 rated it it was amazing
The Long Take by Robin Robertson: a beautiful wound that aches when it rains, a gulp of whisky lingering in one’s stomach like a burning seed. It’s devastatingly good – highly accomplished formally but also immensely vivid, capable of shifting tectonic plates even inside those who may fear that poetry is not for them.

In form, it is a hybrid: an epic poem written in free verse characterized by an unusual inclination towards 11, 13, and 15 syllable lines, interspersed with cinematic prose – fragme
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
Robin Robertson is from the north-east coast of Scotland. His four collections of poetry have received the E. M. Forster Award and various Forward Prizes.
No trivia or quizzes yet. Add some now »