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This review is taken from PN Review 71, Volume 16 Number 3, January - February 1990.

THE UNREMARKABLE YEARS Roy Fuller, Available for Dreams (Collins Harvill) £11.00

In Roy Fuller's 1973 collection Tiny Tears, there's a poem celebrating the uneventfulness of a particular summer: called 'The Unremarkable Year', it ends with the assertion - or prediction - that the year of insignificant events 'Is also that of harmonies / That have made one's life and art for evermore off-key'. It's an idea which reverberates through the unremarkable years, and the remarkable poems, of Fuller's subsequent output, though never more tellingly than in his substantial new collection, Available for Dreams.

The book consists entirely of loosely and variously constructed sonnets - with typical wryness, Fuller defines them as 'a mere fourteen lines with more or less / Random endings' - and it fits neatly into the complicatedly prolific network of his 'late period'. Some of it overlaps, in a notebooky way, with poems in Consolations (1987), while the whole thing is clearly a counterpart to From the Joke Shop (1975), that fine sequence of 'Iambics that keep falling into threes'. The internal relationships are no less artful than the external ones: there are seven sections, of which the first and last ('Kitchen Sonnets' and 'The Cancer Hospital') are very specific in theme; the second and sixth deal respectively with a progress through the seasons and with different kinds of social and personal decay; while the central three sections range more widely among Fuller's characteristic themes - domestic and suburban life, gardening and shopping, music and the arts, retrospects triggered by minor events. The effect is ...


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