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the Complete Review
the complete review - poetry

Old Negatives

Alasdair Gray

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Title: Old Negatives
Author: Alasdair Gray
Genre: Poetry
Written: 1952-83 (1989)
Length: 67 pages
Availability: Old Negatives - US
Old Negatives - UK
Old Negatives - Canada

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Our Assessment:

B+ : interesting, revealing pieces

See our review for fuller assessment.

The complete review's Review:

       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 this is a beautiful volume, regardless of its content. An aesthetic pleasure to hold and behold.

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Alasdair Gray Other books by Alasdair Gray under review: Books about Alasdair Gray under review: Other books of interest under review:
  • See Index of Poetry under review

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About the Author:

       Scottish author Alasdair Gray was born in 1934. A noted illustrator and author, he has written a number of remarkable works of fiction.

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