Old Negatives


Alasdair Gray's fiction notably 'Lanark', 'Unlikely Stories, Mostly', '1982', 'Janine' and 'The Fall of Kelvin Walker', is about modern states of love, faith and language and politics.

The verses in 'Old Negatives' deal with the same things, omitting politics. They have been written at different times since 1952 and are arranged chronologically to suggest growth. They are negative because they describe love mainly by its absences and reverses.

Price: p/bk £5.95
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Publishers details: Jonathan Cape


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ISBN: 0 224 02656 9


Reviews of this book:
Alasdair Gray's beautifully designed volume of poems collects verses originally written between 1952 and 1983. In the blurb to the book Gray states that they deal with "modern states of love, faith, language". He also writes:

They are negative because they describe love mainly by its absences and reverses.

The poems are a varied lot (as is to be expected, considering that they span some 30 years), with Gray experimenting stylistically and formally. As in his stories and novels, Gray is adept at setting a small scene or describing an incident succinctly. In these poems he generally strays farther from the sober, straightforward narrative style of much of his prose, willing to indulge and experiment more.
The variety means that there is always something new, readily holding one's interest to see what Gray will do next. What is perhaps lacking is a cohesiveness to the collection.
There are some remarkable pieces here, and only a few that are too artificial and/or strained. Gray has a fine ear for language, as he has shown in his radio and theatre plays and his fiction. The poetry can stand on its own as well; it is only unfortunate that there is so little, leaving it standing a bit forlornly beside the rest of work.
More richly illustrated (with Gray's own work) than most of his other books
[Old Negatives] is a beautiful volume, regardless of its content. An aesthetic pleasure to hold and behold. The Complete Review

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