Oh N Quentin Woolf, what have you done? The Death of the Poet is literature, it’s powerful and gut-wrenching and it tore through me.
The book follows two stories, the first of a DJ (John Knox) who suffers domestic abuse at the hands of his partner, the second is the life of a literary editor who survived World War One. As the pages unravelled before me, they didn’t revealed a twist or surprise too soon to shatter the all entrancing quality of the writing. Nothing shocked me, but nothing was expected.
Like life, a lot of the book seems incidental. As you follow Knox on his journey there are many side shows, but as in the day-to-day, not many of them stick around forever. His work, his ex, his family and his friendships all at times are in the prominence, but then can disappear altogether. It’s a fiction that is told so raw that it could be the recounting of a life on an early deathbed.
Throughout the course of the book you’re thrown about in time, from the day to day, to years passing and then a century coming back to haunt – this could have been a gimmick but way Woolf has crafted it in a manner that just forces you to read one more page, chapter, until you realise it’s 2am. Then you can’t sleep worrying about the characters.
In answer to the initial question posed, N Quentin Woolf – you have crafted an absorbing and brilliant novel and I’d recommend The Death of the Poet to anyone who is interested in reading now what their grandchildren may still be reading and heralding in years to come.
You can buy The Death of the Poet from lots of good independent book shops. Try your local one, they’ll order it if they don’t have it. I got mine, a signed copy, from Brick Lane Bookshop and I’m sure they’ll have a couple more signed if you’re keen.