Just a few years ago, Reading's Collected Poems appeared in two massive volumes, spanning 25 years of writing, and demonstrating his remarkable range of styles and his unrelenting vision of an England in decay. There's nothing beyond Reading's ken, and there seems to be no form he won—t give a shot, as he continues to do in this little volume that also rubs our faces in the squalor of post-Thatcherism, for these —desperate circumstances— demand —disparate measures.— A BBC performance piece, —Three,— contributes to Reading's self-mythology, as he provides a litany of the dead and his relation to them in time; his witty self-deprecation finds his voice literally shrinking and fading from the page—the only visual gimmick in a book that relies on a textbook's worth of formal jokes and meters, and also on the plain 'solace of Word-Hoard.— Contrarian to the core, Reading's also angry, boastful, drunk, suicidal, dismissive, and willing to mine any source, to re-imagine the works of the past in service of his timely invective. He scours the classics for the naughtiest bits, from Theocritus and Propertius to Horace and Ovid, and even translates the guttural verses of —Piers the Plowman,— with its luridly detailed depiction of the Deadly Sin, Gluttony. Reading's direct speech always engages—even his agitprop relies on quick wit and his delightful Anglo-Saxon vulgarity.
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