By and Large
Brandl & Schlesinger, $21.95 pb, 98 pp
Chris Wallace-Crabbe’s new book, By and Large, is, despite its hundred pages, a thinner book than most of his recent volumes. The familiar features are there: a baroque and intense intellectual ambit combined with playfulness; a deep love of the sharp ‘thinginess’ of the world combined with a love of the expressiveness of the words we use to contain it; and, last but far from least, enjoyable phrasemaking. It is just that, in By and Large, the reader’s pleasure seems more attenuated.
What stands out as a new departure is an intriguing forty-sonnet sequence called ‘Modern Times’, the second of the book’s three sections. Given that the third section is called ‘One Life’, we might expect a simple division of authorial attention: one to look at the world and the other to look inwards. In reality, things are a bit more complex than that.