The Long Take by Robin Robertson

The Long Take

Walker, a young Canadian recently demobilised after war and his active service in the Normandy landings and subsequent European operations. Suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder, and unable to face a return to his family home in rural Nova Scotia, he goes in search of freedom, change, anonymity and repair. We follow Walker through a sequence of poems as he moves through post-war American cities of New York, Los Angles and San Francisco.

Details The Long Take

TitleThe Long Take
Release DateFeb 22nd, 2018
GenrePoetry, Fiction, Literary Fiction, Historical, Historical Fiction

Reviews The Long Take

  • Meike
    Well-deserved Winner of the Goldsmiths Prize 2018Wow, the poetic vision of this book is simply brilliant - what a haunting, atmospheric, and perfectly composed text! Robertson tells the story of a Canadian soldier who fought at the Western front in WW II and comes to the US to make a life for himself - or is it to get lost and to forget? Our protagonist bears the telling name Walker, and he finds a new purpose as a newspaper reporter, roaming the...
  • Gumble's Yard
    I've travelled a fair bit. The Canadian Maritimesthat's where I'm from. I know that coastline, down to Maine.I signed up, trained up in England, then fought in Normandy,then on through the low countries. GermanyAfter the war I worked in New York City for eighteen monthsand now I'm here. I read all the time. Novels, history,I'm interested in films and jazz. Cities'Cities'?'Yes American Cities''What about American Cities''How they fail'Now winner o...
  • Hugh
    Winner of the Goldsmiths Prize 2018Shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize 2018This is my second book from the Booker longlist. I was already aware of Robertson as a poet having heard him on the radio and through a CD called Hirta Songs, a collaboration with the Scottish folksinger Alasdair Roberts that mixed songs and spoken poetry, telling the story of the last inhabitants of St Kilda.This book is a bold experiment - it has the narrative arc of a ...
  • Antonomasia
    I bloody love long narrative poems, and I wish there were a lot more modern novels in this form. Not sure why I find poetry faster to read - know it isn't the case for everyone. For me, it goes straight into the veins, and it omits the extraneous, leaving only the most vital impressions. Or maybe it's the presentation: shorter lines and more white space on the page make it visually easier to take in. It was the form that made me keen to read this...
  • Trudie
    Is it prose, poetry, a prose poem, narrative verse, a novel with many artful line breaks ? - I don't know but it is rather beautiful and achingly sad. The Long Take is many things, a primer on late 1940s early 50s noir film as well as a beautiful evocation of cities in a state of flux. It’s about one man’s descent into post war despair. It also does rather a great job in describing shadows. he walked the monochrome world of the city, after ho...
  • Marchpane
    The Long Take is a moody work combining verse and prose to depict a crumbling post-war America. It flickers between protagonist Walker’s present - the New York, Los Angeles and San Francisco of the late 1940s through the 1950s - and his recent past in Europe fighting in WWII, with occasional glimpses of his earlier bucolic home life in Nova Scotia.The book fairly crackles with atmosphere and noir-ish sensibility. I especially enjoyed the early...
  • Dan Friedman
    Robin Robertson’s The Long Take demanded a new type of reading for me. I started reading it as poetry or as Psalms, reading short passages slowly and then immediately rereading them. But at that leisurely pace, I soon realized that The Long Take would dominate my fiction reading for weeks or even months, leading me to spend the entire Booker season on this one novel alone. So while I started slowly, I finished it more rapidly, as a contemplativ...
  • Britta Böhler
    Absolutely brilliant!
  • Maddie C.
    “ I’m interested in films and jazz. Cities.’ ‘Cities?’ ‘Yes. American cities.’ ‘What about American cities?’ ‘How they fail.’ ” The Long Take is an incredibly raw look at the post-war experience, illustrating the particular trials and tribulations felt after the second world war ended, specifically as the veterans of the war returned to their home countries and tried to rebuild their lives. Written in verse, an epic of min...
  • Paul Fulcher
    'I'm interested in film and jazz. Cities.' 'Cities?' 'Yes, American cities.' 'What about American cities.''How they fail'Shortlisted for the 2018 Man Booker prize and now winner of the 2018 Goldsmiths Prize, The Long Take is, in the author's word, a narrative poem. The novel, set in the decade after World War II, is narrated Walker, a traumatised Canadian veteran. His reminiscences on the Normandy D-day landings forms a spine to the novel as, in ...
  • Claire
    There is so much going on in this book, and all of it is good. The Long Take is so deserving of its place on the 2018 Man Booker Shortlist. I was hesitant about reading this- I’m always wary of extended narratives written in verse. I often find it gimmicky; that either the form or narrative suffers. This is not the case with The Long Take.This book is about many things: post-war America, the veteran experience, isolation, poverty, and most inte...
  • Sunita
    4.5 stars, rounded up. I don't read a lot of poetry and the last verse novel I read was Vikram Seth's Golden Gate, which came out many years ago. But I was intrigued by the reviews and when it made the Booker longlist I moved it up the TBR. Robertson is a highly acclaimed poet, one of two people who has won the Forward Prize for poetry in three different categories. This is a true verse novel, in my opinion. It is written primarily in poetic form...
  • Jerrie (redwritinghood)
    This is another fantastic Man Booker longlist pick. Moody and atmospheric, this poetry perfectly captures 1950s LA noir. A WWII veteran suffering guilt and PTSD travels to LA as it undergoes the changes that make it into a modern city of roads, parking lots, and homeless soldiers. Interspersed with flashbacks of the war, language is used expertly to evoke post-war America with its racism, fear of communism, and race to modernize.
  • Rachel
    Hmm. I seem to be in the minority in not being completely enamored with this novel in verse, though in a lot of ways it's certainly an impressive feat. Robin Robertson's writing is elegant and immersive, the tone is achingly sad, and he uses the form to explore a myriad of subjects - PTSD, the development of post-war America, the advent of cinema... There's a lot of content packed into this little book, but while I found myself impressed by many ...
  • Neil
    UPDATE: Now re-read after its inclusion on the Goldsmiths shortlist and confirmed as a 5 star read. This time I found it even more poetic and devastatingly heartbreaking in its depiction of a man struggling with PTSD and in its depiction of racism in post-war America. Maybe more to come when I get back from holiday and am not typing on my phone.———It is hard to comprehend the horror of war if you have not experienced it. I know it is beyond...
  • Jonathan Pool
    There are many ways to approach writing a review of The Long Take.It’s a great, multi faceted work of fiction and one that is a novel, in a conventional sense, rather than poetry dressed up as prose. This despite the book’s livery describing it as ‘Picador Poetry” and despite the fact that Robin Robertson has an established, an esteemed, reputation writing poetry.I particularly liked the fact that The Long Take provided a number of easily...
  • Katie Long
    Oh, another gem from this year's Man Booker longlist. In this novel length poem, a Canadian WWII veteran is trying to rebuild his life while haunted by the fear that he has lost part of himself forever. From New York, to L.A., to San Francisco, he finds a country that seems to believe it has moved on from the war that he can't forget, but there is clearly fear at the root of all of the consumerism and commercialization. A beautiful, brooding book...
  • Eric Anderson
    Robin Robertson is a Scottish writer who has published several successful collections of poetry. His book “The Long Take” is described on the inside flap of the dust jacket as “a noir narrative written with the intensity and power of poetry.” I'm all for cross-genre novels and blended forms of writing. I don't think categorization of books makes an impact on the actual reading experience. But I do get slightly anxious when self-proclaimed...
  • David
    Wow. I just got knocked down by this book and suspect I'll be seeing stars for quite some time. I'm a bit dazed and a lot dazzled. This Man Booker longlist entry seems to have all the elements one expects from a winner:Creative and masterful manipulation of form and content.Beautiful, evocative language (in this case applied to descriptions of bucolic Nova Scotia, modern warfare, urban sprawl, physical devastation, and a shattering of the soul.)L...
  • Nicky
    4.5* rounded up. Thoughts to follow once I get my head around it and after I see the author in person next week (it was pretty bleak but great).Updated 30/8: After seeing an interview, hearing Robin Robertson read in his dramatic Scottish accent and speaking to him about this book and other’s I give all the stars. 5**I really feel I need to read this again with his voice in my head and appreciate all the little nuances and themes he discussed.T...
  • Doug
    I'm generally not fond of poetry, but this transcends the genre in not getting overly flowery in its language, and having a strong narrative drive. I really liked the noirish elements, and especially enjoyed the glimpse of my native San Francisco around the same time I appeared on the scene there as a baby (yay shout-out to Spenger's Fish Grotto, may it RIP). I could have done without some of the more gruesome passages, especially the war scenes,...
  • Krista
    The paper said he could try out on movie reviews, so he went to see Deadly is the Female in the Cameo, or the Star, one of those theatres next to the Arcade. He thought about it all night. That long take inside the getaway car: one shot lasted three minutes easy and was just real life, right there. The Long Take is another Man Booker shortlist title that I wouldn't have picked up if not for its place on that list; another book this year that...
  • Sarah
    Poetry and the Second World War - two things I often struggle with in books. I needn't have worried. The Long Take is a stunning look at how the War impacted upon one man, Walker, a Canadian soldier who was demobilised after fighting in Normandy. Dreading the prospect of going home to rural Nova Scotia, we follow Walker as he moves to New York, and later LA and San Francisco, and experience his PTSD (flashbacks to which increase as the story prog...
  • Caroline
    This book speaks to my heart. Achingly beautiful.And on to Alameda and Chinatowntill he found the path that climbed to there Stone Quarry hillsup through fields and houses of the new pueblo to the high ravines,Chavez, Sulphur, and Cemetery, Solano and Reservoir,to Mount Lookout in between.And he stood there, far over City Hall--over the lights of Los Angeles--as if the whole sky and all the stars had fallen:displayed, spread out belowin a flicker...
  • Will
    I keep bumping this one up. Now a full 5 stars.
  • Robert
    Here's the review:
  • Isobel
    Walker is a veteran suffering from post traumatic stress disorder after the 2nd world war. Drifting alone from the East to the West Coast of America, he gets a job for a paper documenting the homeless in the cities whose histories are being torn down to make space for the new. Robertson’s poetry is beautiful, though his images are terribly sad and often revolting. He really captures the desperate situation of these traumatised young men, who ha...
  • Jan
    From the Man Booker short list, an eerie verse poem—a tour de force of language, PTSD, homelessness, Hollywood and a transforming Los Angeles in the post WWII era.
  • Daniel Sevitt
    Undeniably noir. Less convincingly poetry, at least to this poor reader of poetry. Actually it reminded me of James Ellroy who has covered a fair bit of this kind of 40s in L.A. ground and has made a reasonable stab at noir poetry himself in books like White Jazz. Robertson is more concerned here with the city and how it is failing its inhabitants and its homeless. There is a real sense of urgency as the rise of McCarthyism mirrors the creeping s...
  • Oni
    The Long Take by Robin Robertson: a beautiful wound that aches when it rains, a gulp of whisky lingering in one’s stomach like a burning seed. It’s devastatingly good – highly accomplished formally but also immensely vivid, capable of shifting tectonic plates even inside those who may fear that poetry is not for them.In form, it is a hybrid: an epic poem written in free verse characterized by an unusual inclination towards 11, 13, and 15 sy...