New and forthcoming
From Chatterton’s Pre-Raphaelite demise to Keats’ death warrant in a smudge of arterial blood; from Dylan Thomas’s eighteen straight whiskies to Sylvia Plath’s desperate suicide in the gas oven of her Primrose Hill kitchen or John Berryman’s leap from a bridge onto the frozen Mississippi, the deaths of poets have often cast a backward shadow on their work.
The post-Romantic myth of the dissolute drunken poet – exemplified by Thomas and made iconic by his death in New York – has fatally skewed the image of poets in our culture. Novelists can be stable, savvy, politically adept and in control, but poets should be melancholic, doomed and self-destructive. Is this just a myth, or is there some essential truth behind it: that great poems only come when a poet's life is pushed right to an emotional knife-edge of acceptability, safety, security? What is the price of poetry?
In this book, two contemporary poets undertake a series of journeys – across Britain, America and Europe – to the death places of poets of the past, in part as pilgrims, honouring inspirational writers, but also as investigators, interrogating the myth. The result is a book that is, in turn, enlightening and provocative, eye-wateringly funny and powerfully moving.
Following an extended bout of hard city life, Tony Rocca and his wife, Mira, decided that some of the really important things were missing - good food, plenty of sunshine and a relaxed approach to life. Despite Tony's name, however, their decision to move to Chianti was not based on heritage, nor any knowledge of the Italian language or spirit that had failed to pass down the line to him.
Hardly expecting things to be straightforward, Tony and Mira set about raising a loan to purchase Collelungo, the dilapidated property they had set their hearts on converting into an 'agriturismo' hotel. Complications and misinterpretations followed hot on the heels of each other, and before long they found themselves in trouble with the Monte dei Paschi bank with a debt of one billion Lire.
Finding drumming-up business to be a tougher task than they had anticipated, it was not long before the Roccas realised that alternative avenues would have to be explored to increase their income. Keeping on the hospitality business, Tony was persuaded by Mira to experiment with the vines that had been part of the property purchase. Sceptical though he was about the investment involved, the success of these wines was unprecedented.
What follows is a heart-warming story of success and integration into a community through persistence, good humour, and sheer hard work.
In January 2006, a month or two after my father died, I thought I saw him again – a momentary impression of an old man, a little stooped, setting off for a walk in his characteristic fawn corduroys and shabby quilted jacket. After teenage rifts it was walking that brought us closer as father and son; and this ‘ghost’ of Dad has been walking at my elbow since his death, as I have ruminated on his great love of walking, his prodigious need to do it – and how and why I walk myself.
The January Man is the story of a year of walks that was inspired by a song, Dave Goulder’s ‘The January Man’. Month by month, season by season and region by region, Christopher Somerville walks the British Isles, following routes that continually bring his father to mind. As he travels the country – from the winter floodlands of the River Severn to the lambing pastures of Nidderdale, the towering seabird cliffs on the Shetland Isle of Foula in June and the ancient oaks of Sherwood Forest in autumn – he describes the history, wildlife, landscapes and people he encounters, down back lanes and old paths, in rain and fair weather.
This exquisitely written account of the British countryside not only inspires us to don our boots and explore the 140,000 miles of footpaths across the British Isles, but also illustrates how, on long-distance walks, we can come to an understanding of ourselves and our fellow walkers. Over the hills and along the byways, Christopher Somerville examines what moulded the men of his father’s generation – so reticent about their wartime experiences, so self-effacing, upright and dutiful – as he searches for ‘the man inside the man’ that his own father really was.
Lion is the heartbreaking and inspiring original true story of the lost little boy who found his way home twenty-five years later and is now a major film starring Dev Patel, Nicole Kidman and Rooney Mara.
As a five-year old in India, I got lost on a train. Twenty-five years later, I crossed the world to find my way back home.
Five-year-old Saroo lived in a poor village in India, in a one-room hut with his mother and three siblings... until the day he boarded a train alone and got lost. For twenty-five years.
This is the story of what happened to Saroo in those twenty-five years. How he ended up on the streets of Calcutta. And survived. How he then ended up in Tasmania, living the life of an upper-middle-class Aussie. And how, at thirty years old, with some dogged determination, a heap of good luck and the power of Google Earth, he found his way back home.
Lion is a triumphant true story of survival against all odds and a shining example of the extraordinary feats we can achieve when hope endures.
'Amazing stuff' The New York Post
'So incredible that sometimes it reads like a work of fiction' Winnipeg Free Press (Canada)
'A remarkable story' Sydney Morning Herald Review
'I literally could not put this book down. Saroo's return journey will leave you weeping with joy and the strength of the human spirit' Manly Daily (Australia)
'We urge you to step behind the headlines and have a read of this absorbing account...With clear recollections and good old-fashioned storytelling, Saroo...recalls the fear of being lost and the anguish of separation' Weekly Review (Australia)
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