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This review is taken from PN Review 136, Volume 27 Number 2, November - December 2000.

THE FISHER THING The Thing about Roy Fisher: Critical Studies, edited by John Kerrigan and Peter Robinson (Liverpool University Press) £16.99 and £34.99

What is the thing about Roy Fisher? Is it romantic, realist, neo-modernist, high-modernist, objectivist, avant-gardiste, Larkinesque; or is it just a jazz thing? Depending on what combination of critic and poem you have, it could be any one of the above. For, though poets and critics of various tempers and affiliations have championed Roy Fisher's poetry over the years, they have seldom agreed on why they do so. That the first critical book on Roy Fisher should be a collection of essays which attempts to, and for the most part does, represent this diversity of work and opinion is testimony not only to this state of affairs, but also to the virtues of John Kerrigan and Peter Robinson who have managed to edit a book which is various and inclusive, yet remarkably focused. This ability to be judicious and, at the same time, open to a wide-range of interests is manifested in their own essays. Kerrigan moves with assurance through some of Fisher's more difficult material, taking in as he does so examinations of location, history, art, the body, space-time and post-Einsteinian physics. In so doing he goes much further than earlier critics towards charting the matter and pattern of such concerns and convincing the reader why the tracing of them can be such an exhilarating experience. Peter Robinson's subject is more down to earth. His discussion of ends and endings in Fisher's work and their relation to death and the dead explores the limits of the oft stated ...


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