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This review is taken from PN Review 158, Volume 30 Number 6, July - August 2004.

RAZOR BOYS J.H. PRYNNE, Biting the Air (Equipage) £3.00
KEN EDWARDS, Eight + Six (Reality Street Editions) £7.50

There's a man in my basement who does the Times crossword every day and the giant one at weekends. Once he won the prize: several dictionaries. His job, like mine, is to collect and carry books to those better qualified to read them. He is better at both these things than me. Perhaps he could do something with `Gainful slow-down at hand partition.' Time slows or speeds up after the midnight of millennium? Or: `Sated to a faculty with snack extras, set on crest.' Sick of permanent tenure at high table, of being King Un? Whatever it means is sure to be not what it seems to mean. The best I can do is make them up: `The whole thing spoken in anger to a friend', years ago, was my blurb for The Complete Crossword Companion.

J.H. Prynne's epigraph is from William of Ockham's Summa Logicae: `Every property is the property of something, but it is not the property of just anything.' Obviously enough. Applying the razor to this small book of twelve five stanza'd quatrains - an impressively sheer cliff-face - trying to find the simplest theory that fits, I'd say he is snapping aggressively at the passing political parade but finds little to chew on. He bounds forward with great brio from poem to poem, on and on and on to the next serving of glazed enjambon. Possession is nine tenths of the law, he might be saying, or simply try and understand me, in ...


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