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The Long Take
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Booker Prize for Fiction > 2018 Booker Shortlist: The Long Take

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message 1: by Trevor (new)

Trevor (mookse) | 1843 comments Mod
The Long Take, by Robin Robertson


Hugh (bodachliath) | 3005 comments Mod
This is a very intriguing choice, which I am looking forward to reading.

I have heard Robertson's poetry a few times on the radio, and I have a CD called Hirta Songs which was a very interesting collaboration with the Scottish folksinger Alasdair Roberts which mixes songs (for which Robertson wrote the lyrics) and poems (recited by Robertson) - it tells the story of the last inhabitants of the Scottish island of Hirta, better known as St Kilda.


Amanda (tnbooklover) | 96 comments I’m having difficulty tracking down a copy of this one.


message 4: by Claire (new) - added it

Claire  | 44 comments I can find it as an ebook for now, but see it is available in other formats in big stores.


Hugh (bodachliath) | 3005 comments Mod
I had a quick glance at my copy of this one last night, and it is mostly formatted as poetry, but as poetry goes it looks fairly easy to follow. I can confirm that the page count of 256 is about right.


message 6: by Ang (new) - rated it 5 stars

Ang | 1685 comments Amanda wrote: "I’m having difficulty tracking down a copy of this one."

I ordered from Waterstones last night and it has been dispatched. I am not sure where you live so that might not be a great option.


Hugh (bodachliath) | 3005 comments Mod
My copy was ordered from Waterstones too - they had copies of 8 of the longlist, including this one, in my local branch in Nottingham.


Alysson Oliveira | 83 comments I'm curious about the shape of this book. I have ordered it but it takes a while to arrive here in Brazil, but from the pictures I sae it looks more like a square than the regular shape of a book. Is that so?


Amanda (tnbooklover) | 96 comments You guys have no idea how jealous I am of Waterstones. USproblems 🙄


message 10: by Hugh (new) - rated it 4 stars

Hugh (bodachliath) | 3005 comments Mod
Yes, it is an unusual shape, not a golden rectangle.


Robert | 1960 comments Out of stock on book depo :(


message 12: by Hugh (new) - rated it 4 stars

Hugh (bodachliath) | 3005 comments Mod
It has probably sold rather more already than most poetry books - I'm sure they will print more...


message 13: by Neil (new) - rated it 5 stars

Neil | 1829 comments The "look inside" option on Amazon shows a map followed by a lot of blank pages. I assume the book has words in it.


Gumble's Yard - Golden Reviewer | 5084 comments Who knows with this judging panel

Maybe it’s blank verse.


message 15: by Hugh (new) - rated it 4 stars

Hugh (bodachliath) | 3005 comments Mod
My copy has plenty of words, and is definitely not the shortest ever longlisted book...


Tommi | 486 comments Neil wrote: "The "look inside" option on Amazon shows a map followed by a lot of blank pages. I assume the book has words in it."

This nearly made me spill the coffee on the laptop. It encapsulates all the longlist frustration!


Alysson Oliveira | 83 comments Thanks, Hugh!


Alysson Oliveira | 83 comments I bought mine from wordery, but it was as soon as the list was out. I don't know if they are out of stock too.


message 19: by Val (new) - rated it 4 stars

Val | 1016 comments This is one of those I can't get from the library. I will give them a few weeks and see if they order a copy, then buy the kindle version if they don't.


message 20: by Sam (new) - rated it 4 stars

Sam | 1542 comments For those reading this, I'd be interested in how you compared the poetry to Anne Carson's Autobiography of Red.


message 21: by Hugh (new) - rated it 4 stars

Hugh (bodachliath) | 3005 comments Mod
Planning to start this later today once I have finished Milkman.


message 22: by Hugh (new) - rated it 4 stars

Hugh (bodachliath) | 3005 comments Mod
Started this earlier. I am not normally very good at reading poetry but this is quite easy to follow and very atmospheric.


message 23: by Ang (new) - rated it 5 stars

Ang | 1685 comments Glad to hear you say that, Hugh, because I have the same normally with poetry.


message 24: by Hugh (last edited Aug 01, 2018 03:02AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Hugh (bodachliath) | 3005 comments Mod
I finished this yesterday and enjoyed it without ever feeling I was the ideal target reader. A film buff familiar with the history of LA and the Normandy landings would doubtless pick up more of the allusions. There is an appendix containing photographic credits and footnotes on the films and other historical references but there is nothing in the main text that highlights the existence of the footnotes. I look forward to more of you reading this because I expect an interesting debate. My review


Gumble's Yard - Golden Reviewer | 5084 comments In a Booker longlist which has such a geographical restriction it's nice to see an author from one country writing of a character from a second country visiting a third country

Just a shame the countries are UK, Canada and U.S.


Gumble's Yard - Golden Reviewer | 5084 comments Just added my review

https://www.goodreads.com/review/show...

Like Hugh I am far from the ideal audience - poetry and movies (let alone a specific genre like Film Noir) - are not art forms I appreciate and Los Angeles is not a city I have visited.

Nevertheless I did really enjoy it as the imagery and writing is powerful.


Gumble's Yard - Golden Reviewer | 5084 comments I am also concerned that the judging panel selected it (given their apparent criteria) for a level of contemporary relevance which I felt to be a little forced.


message 28: by Hugh (new) - rated it 4 stars

Hugh (bodachliath) | 3005 comments Mod
I hope the selection had nothing to do with contemporary relevance - this book is so redolent of the post-war decade that it would be a bizarre justification. I enjoyed it on its own terms, but I am having similar problems knowing where to rank it.


message 29: by Neil (new) - rated it 5 stars

Neil | 1829 comments I loved this, perhaps helped by a bit of background knowledge of film noir and jazz. The trailers and, indeed, the full version of many of the movies referenced are easily accessibly on YouTube. It is worth looking at a few of them, I would say, but pick a few at random rather than trying to look at all of them.

But it wasn't the film noir or the jazz that won me over. It was Walker.

Also the writing is wonderful. And reminiscent of Denis Johnson at times in its poetic imagery and its ability to make squalor almost tangible.

Here's my review: https://www.goodreads.com/review/show...


message 30: by Tommi (last edited Aug 04, 2018 08:04AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Tommi | 486 comments Halfway through, and pretty much 5/5 material for me. There are so many levels to appreciate and delve deeper into here.

Like the “lightning” in the sky and the “thundering” in the following stanza which is not related to any weather, what a clever image (even if it is not a surprising way to write about PTSD).

Like the cigarette smoke in the “projector’s cone of light” in the theater (p. 12) which corresponds to “[t]he huge cathedral light” angling down on Walker “in the floating dust there / like the beam of a projector” (pp. 30–31).

Like the coyotes in Los Angeles. I’m not sure if this is developed later in the book, but what did you make of them?
‘Say, I been meaning to ask – you ever see coyotes on the streets?’
His friend looked up.
‘Ah, the Tricksters. Like Reynard, Br’er Rabbit, Anansi.
And fire-bringers, the Indians say. The coyote, and the raven.
They steal fire and bring it to mankind.
You better hope they stay away.’
I take it that coyotes are common in Los Angeles, and was wondering if there was anything deeper here, or if it’s just another example of the meticulous research that Robertson must have conducted in order to make 50s’ LA realistic. I guess this intrigued me because the novels that I’ve read by Native American writers (Momaday, Silko, Erdrich, King) tend to feature these canines for a reason.

Oh, and there are also some less beautiful yet vivid images like “throw[ing] out a gray wing of vomit.”

Etc. etc.

Anyhow, back to reading, underlining, and enjoying. I’ll read other people’s reviews once I’ve finished.


message 31: by Tommi (last edited Aug 04, 2018 08:18AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Tommi | 486 comments One more thing! I can’t help quoting this because of the coincidental overlap with another longlisted book. San Francisco chapter (p. 123):
Everyone wanted to be somewhere else:
the Chicago Café, the New York Hotel, the Mars Hotel.



Maddie (ashelfofonesown) | 113 comments Just finished! I'm struggling to rate it at the moment. There were moments of clear lucidity and brilliance, instances of such beautiful, jarring prose and imagery I was left in awe. However, there were also moments that didn't grip me as much, almost left me disoriented with the amount of detail about the city and references to film that went practically over my head.

I'm hoping to gather my thoughts and write a review soon! :-)


Tommi | 486 comments I might be dropping this to 4 stars after all. The last chapter didn’t quite hold up what the book did earlier with beautiful language describing the nuances of city life. War and PTSD seem to be much more on the forefront as Walker’s reminiscences of Normandy increase in frequency. And war lit is not my thing at all, so go figure. Otherwise, it’s a fantastic book.

I also wonder about its eligibility. I don’t mind at all that it’s listed, even if it’s a narrative poem with only short vignettes of prose, but I do feel bad for next year’s judges who will have to go through piles of crime novels, graphic novels, and poetry collections that are sold as novels.


message 34: by Maddie (last edited Aug 05, 2018 03:46PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Maddie (ashelfofonesown) | 113 comments I'm curious to hear about you guys thoughts on Pike: what did you make of him? What do you think was his role in the story?

I thought he was used as an example of the "new generation", the one untouched by the war, that felt invincible and thus had no respect for the older generation and what it had gone through. But then that thing with Billy happened and I don't understand if Pike was the one responsible or if it was just Walker being "paranoid" and "conjuring" his image, in that moment, out of spite/fear.

The same with the coyotes, as Tommi asked above: I thought of the coyote as a metaphor for the city or the war, a looming, fatalistic presence that Walker couldn't avoid when his loneliness/hurt got worse.

Here is my review.


message 35: by Robert (last edited Aug 06, 2018 11:44PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Robert | 1960 comments Just started the long take

Incidentally the book is dedicated to Jason Molina, who was (died in 2013) the lead singer of the groups Songs: Ohia and magnolia Electric C. Molina was another chronicler of American life. Since Hugh mentioned that Robertson collaborated with musician Alasdair Roberts, this makes a lot of sense.


Tommi | 486 comments Oh, I didn’t recall Molina’s name. The album ”Ghost Tropic” by Songs: Ohia must be one of the most melancholic albums I’ve ever heard. Thanks Robert.


message 37: by Robert (last edited Aug 07, 2018 03:21AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Robert | 1960 comments Tommi wrote: "Oh, I didn’t recall Molina’s name. The album ”Ghost Tropic” by Songs: Ohia must be one of the most melancholic albums I’ve ever heard. Thanks Robert."

No prob. That album is sooooo good. It's up there with Vic Chestnutt North Star Deserter and anything by Mark Eitzel. Even Okkervil River.


Tommi | 486 comments I should check out some of those. I only recognize Okkervil River, although I’m a huge fan of Shearwater.

As for Maddie’s question about Pike, I’m also curious about it. Interesting idea about the coyote! I should definitely reread this to make more sense of it at all. (The downside of reading full longlists in great speed is the inevitable sloppiness when it comes to details. This book would definitely benefit from careful, unhurried reading.)


message 39: by Neil (new) - rated it 5 stars

Neil | 1829 comments When it is a book of poetry, I am not too worried about making sense of it all. Poetry often exists to create an impression rather than be specific, I think.


message 40: by Maddie (last edited Aug 07, 2018 07:01AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Maddie (ashelfofonesown) | 113 comments I agree with that too, Neil! But I also love to find hidden meaning in things, especially poetry as it is so subjective. :-)

The coyote imagery and verses were some of my favourites in the entire book, even if I wasn't entirely sure how to interpret it. I especially liked this one:

‘Say, I been meaning to ask – you ever see coyotes on the streets?’
His friend looked up.
‘Ah, the Tricksters. Like Reynard, Br’er Rabbit, Anansi.
And fire-bringers, the Indians say. The coyote, and the raven.
They steal fire and bring it to mankind.
You better hope they stay away.’


(Tommi mentioned it already). There's a lot to extract there. The idea of tricksters is very prominent in myths and when Billy said "They still fire and bring it to mankind." reminded me of the myth of Perseus (likely intentional from the author).

Later, we have this:

"The coyote was watching. Tail bushed open – held straight out. In its eyes, the stolen fire."


So from that I thought the coyote was not an actual coyote, a metaphor for something -- I mentioned what I thought they could represent, but I'm likely completely wrong.


message 41: by Tommi (last edited Aug 07, 2018 07:03AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Tommi | 486 comments True. Yet, often ambiguity only increases my interest and willingness to make interpretations (and that, I believe, is partially the reason why someone like Shakespeare is still so widely read and performed). Not that that’s mandatory in the case of The Long Take. It surely can be enjoyed for the atmosphere and impressions.

Edit: Maddie got there first!


message 42: by Gumble's Yard - Golden Reviewer (last edited Aug 07, 2018 07:20AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Gumble's Yard - Golden Reviewer | 5084 comments Isn’t the coyote (and in some cases raven) stealing fire a well known Native American myth? I don’t think any thing more than that is intended.

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Coyot...

Which also explains a lot of the trickster references if not familiar.


message 43: by Hugh (new) - rated it 4 stars

Hugh (bodachliath) | 3005 comments Mod
Of course the judges missed an opportunity to introduce a coyote theme to the longlist when they rejected Happiness!


message 44: by Neil (new) - rated it 5 stars

Neil | 1829 comments Just beat me to it, Hugh!


Britta Böhler | 40 comments I think the coyote represented the feeling of not being at home, having to live in an unfamiliar environment. The animal was as much a stranger in the city as Walker was. (I dont think it was by accident that Robertson choose an animal that was - at least at the time - not living in Newfoundland, but I could be wrong).

As for Pike: I had the impression that Walker started to see Pike in every young man of a certain kind. Pike was present just a little too often for me to believe that it was always the same person. And I didnt think Pike represented change, quite the contrary. Given Pike's racism and antisemitism I think Walker felt that he had fought a war for nothing because fascism and racism was everywhere.


message 46: by Neil (new) - rated it 5 stars

Neil | 1829 comments Interesting - I hadn’t thought in terms of Pike being several people, but I certainly agree he represented the fact that things had not changed. Especially with his shocking statement towards the end.


Robert | 1960 comments Sunita wrote: "Gumble's Yard wrote: "Isn’t the coyote (and in some cases raven) stealing fire a well known Native American myth? I don’t think any thing more than that is intended.

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wi..."


Also the coyote is a wandering loner, just like Walker (oh just realised the significance of his surname!)


Gumble's Yard - Golden Reviewer | 5084 comments On a canine theme we have greyhounds in Warlight, Otto in Everything Under, the dog massacre in Milkman, the dog attack and dog hanging in Mad and Furious. What have I missed.


message 50: by Hugh (new) - rated it 4 stars

Hugh (bodachliath) | 3005 comments Mod
Glad you enjoyed it Robert. You have highlighted one of the big problems with the dynamic rankings table - the algorithm will assume that books are evenly spaced whereas readers tend to start with the ones they are most interested in, and most likely to rate highly. Your ranking has perversely moved the book from third to fifth in the table..


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