The Case of a Young Man Down on His Luck
SEREN BOOKS, AMAZON
AND ALL GOOD BOOK STORES
and soon to be published in US and Canada
Each month the Guardian’s Review section selects a poem to highlight
19th November 1935
Dearest Baby Queen
I’m sorry but this is where I am. I’ve committed no felony but have gone to the dogs. Lizbietta is dead. I can hardly remember what’s happened since then. I ended up in Toronto, taking narcotics again – you can imagine the results. I’ve been and still am going through absolute hell, in and out of this place more times than I can count.
It will be hard for you to understand how harsh a place this country can be. Please keep this from Dad. Apart from that, I need no help.
Your loving brother
13th September 1943
My beloved Kate
Today I found a boy hiding alone in the mountains. He was scared but had no understanding of the war. With a few words of Arabic that I’ve learned, I persuaded him to come back to the village with me. But I think of the bombs falling in London, and you cowering under the kitchen table, and I should be there, not here, I should be with you.
I resent every day of this war, yet every day I love you more. Countless numbers of kisses to you,
Jim Neat is a striking, tough and haunting debut from Mary J. Oliver. A real rollercoaster.
Katrina Naomi, Poet
Mary J. Oliver’s decision to cast parts of the book as poems worked well and the cross-genre approach was an effective way of pulling together the disparate strands of a fragmented life. I was reminded of Anne Stevenson’s Correspondences.
Neil Astley, BloodAxe Books
This is a scrupulously-observed and moving account of the author’s investigation into her family history. Tantalizing glimpses from her father Jim’s letters give clues to his long-concealed past including his life in Canada.
These glimpses are built upon and vividly brought to life. Detective work is applied to a gamut of emotions and memories, set in place alongside the hard-won facts, in writing that is direct, disciplined, and beautifully paced.
We share the unfolding drama with the author as she engages with the power, tragedy, and catharsis of the past.
Penelope Shuttle, Author and Poet