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The poets' stairwell : a picaresque novel

de Alan Gould

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412,835,315 (4)No n'hi ha cap
Claude Boon and Henry Luck, young poets in quest of their muses, cut a swathe through the cultural capitals and byways of Europe and Asia towards the end of the Cold War. The Poets' Stairwell revitalises the picaresque novel. Vibrant, sensuous and layered, it has a tumble of characters and pranks. The puckish Anarchist Beamish, the Isadora Duncan-like Eva, class warrior, Branca, a libidinous translator of poems with Jelena, her iconoclast daughter, Luc Courlai a jailed French philosopher, Titus the Yankee acrobat who cradles his gun like a baby, Mr Hark a saintly Irish funeral director, Willi a German truck driver versed in Thomas Aquinas and sensible Rhee, Henry's girlfriend, amongst others. Behind this company lives a virtual one of poets and philosophers from Yeats to Plato, attending as time and place invoke them. Our picaros' adventures allow Alan Gould to discuss poetic inspiration from womb to self-conscious maturity. The tale of Martha the American plumber will make you cry. There is Sir John Cue the obstetrician who delivers Boon twice across a lifetime to round out the plot. And the meeting with Ted Hughes is not to be missed.… (més)
No n'hi ha cap
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Is poetry in a poet’s DNA? Or is something somehow acquired, when after trudging up a dark and constricted stairwell, the poet bursts into the light and sees with clarity?

Two Australian friends, Claude Boon and Henry Luck, take off on the Grand Tour of Europe to pay homage to the poets of the past, and to find their muses. Luck is the younger, a scholarly genius destined for great things in the world of poetry, while Boon, the narrator, becomes less sure of his destiny. Together they make their way through England, the land of their birth, and on to Ireland and Europe – from Greece and Turkey to ventures behind the Iron Curtain.

The book is subtitled a picaresque novel and the escapades follow the form but the novel has a coherence that I found missing from (dare I say it?) Candide. Like Gould himself, Boon in Australia works at labouring jobs after he has finished university, and in the first moment of tension in his relationship with Luck, he takes him to visit the worksite where the particle accelerator is being built at a thinly-disguised ANU in Canberra. Luck is forever insisting that Boon read this or that poet to plug the gaps in his poetic education, for Boon, achieving only middling honours in his degree, had spent some of his university years involved in politics (including the 1971 ‘Day of Rage’ protests against the Springbok Tour of Australia) and he admits later in the book that he had only read Dante in comic book form. Boon demands a trade off:

To read the rest of my review please visit https://anzlitlovers.com/2016/05/17/the-poets-stairwell-by-alan-gould/ ( )
  anzlitlovers | Jul 17, 2016 |
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No n'hi ha cap

Claude Boon and Henry Luck, young poets in quest of their muses, cut a swathe through the cultural capitals and byways of Europe and Asia towards the end of the Cold War. The Poets' Stairwell revitalises the picaresque novel. Vibrant, sensuous and layered, it has a tumble of characters and pranks. The puckish Anarchist Beamish, the Isadora Duncan-like Eva, class warrior, Branca, a libidinous translator of poems with Jelena, her iconoclast daughter, Luc Courlai a jailed French philosopher, Titus the Yankee acrobat who cradles his gun like a baby, Mr Hark a saintly Irish funeral director, Willi a German truck driver versed in Thomas Aquinas and sensible Rhee, Henry's girlfriend, amongst others. Behind this company lives a virtual one of poets and philosophers from Yeats to Plato, attending as time and place invoke them. Our picaros' adventures allow Alan Gould to discuss poetic inspiration from womb to self-conscious maturity. The tale of Martha the American plumber will make you cry. There is Sir John Cue the obstetrician who delivers Boon twice across a lifetime to round out the plot. And the meeting with Ted Hughes is not to be missed.

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