I read books because I like the cover, or because I read about them somewhere, or because the fact that the book won a prize is advertised on the front cover. That’s basically why I bought John Burnside’s book of poems last year, Black Cat Bone: it had won the TS Eliot Prize, and it says so in a little box on the cover. This tactic of book-choosing generally works pretty well, and it did in this case.The writing in this book is spare, but beautiful, with eye-catching beginnings, like this one to “On the Fairytale Ending”:
Begin with the fend-for-yourselfof all the loves you learned about
in story books;
and this one, from “Creaturely”:
The only gift is knowing we belong
(The rest of the poems are good too.)
In short, I really liked BCB, and I decided I wanted to watch Burnside’s career progress. So I did what I do with everything else I don’t know how to remind myself to follow: I set up a Google alert.
That Google alert brings in some weird stuff, but it also brought this great Economist review of a new book of short stories by Burnside, which I am very excited about.