For admirers of Clive James’s poetry written since he became terminally ill in 2011 (and this reviewer is certainly one), The River in the Sky will pose something of a quandary. In collections like Sentenced to Life (2015) and Injury Time (2017), the poems were generally tough, vulnerable, well-turned and, given the circumstances, stoic. The River in the Sky has some of these qualities but is very different in nature and in its cumulative impact. Comprising scores of unnumbered verse paragraphs in various line lengths (iambic dimeter through to iambic pentameter), The River in the Sky is a kind of phantasmagoria presenting many key moments and visual episodes in James’s long, peripatetic life.
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