Rebecca's Reviews > Sentenced to Life

Sentenced to Life by Clive James
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bookshelves: illness-and-death, poetry, read-via-edelweiss, cancer-memoirs

James, an Australian critic and all-round man of letters, was first diagnosed with leukemia in 2010. After a setback in 2013, he’s rallied, but these poems are certainly infused with a sense of imminent mortality. “Hard to believe, now, that I once was free / From pills in heaps, blood tests, X-rays and scans.” The incessant ABAB rhyming in the early poems set up a jaunty rhythm I didn’t find appropriate to the subject matter; I much prefer the later unrhymed poems. “Plot Points” is my favorite, artfully linking disparate historical moments:

On a hard day in the Alhambra
The Sultan sent an apple
To the virgin of his choice.
The logo on your Macbook
Is an echo of the manner
In which Alan Turing killed himself.

Like Christopher Hitchens did some years back, James faces death stoically, bravely, but with no delusions of an afterlife; “now we know that paradise is here, // As is the underworld.”
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Reading Progress

July 28, 2015 – Shelved
July 28, 2015 – Shelved as: to-read
September 29, 2015 – Started Reading
September 29, 2015 – Shelved as: illness-and-death
September 29, 2015 – Shelved as: poetry
September 29, 2015 – Shelved as: read-via-edelweiss
October 6, 2015 – Finished Reading
April 12, 2016 – Shelved as: cancer-memoirs

Comments Showing 1-2 of 2 (2 new)

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message 1: by Cecily (new)

Cecily In today's Guardian, he's rather embarrassed that he's still alive:

Rebecca Ha! Thanks for pointing me to that. I did rather assume that this was a posthumous publication, but then saw some articles about him that confirmed he was indeed still alive.

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