The Long Take

The Long Take

by Robin Robertson


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**Finalist for the 2018 Man Booker Prize**
**Winner of the Walter Scott Prize for Historical Fiction, the Goldsmiths Prize for Innovative Fiction, and the Roehampton Poetry Prize**

From the award-winning British author—a poet's noir narrative that tells the story of a D-Day veteran in postwar America: a good man, brutalized by war, haunted by violence and apparently doomed to return to it, yet resolved to find kindness again, in the world and in himself.

Walker is a D-Day veteran with post-traumatic stress disorder; he can't return home to rural Nova Scotia, and looks instead to the city for freedom, anonymity and repair. As he finds his way from New York to Los Angeles and San Francisco, we witness a crucial period of fracture in American history, one that also allowed film noir to flourish. The Dream had gone sour but—as those dark, classic movies made clear—the country needed outsiders to study and to dramatize its new anxieties. Both an outsider and, gradually, an insider, Walker finds work as a journalist, and tries to piece his life together as America is beginning to come apart: riven by social and racial divisions, spiraling corruption, and the collapse of the inner cities. Robin Robertson's fluid verse pans with filmic immediacy across the postwar urban scene—and into the heart of an unforgettable character—in this highly original work of art.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780525655213
Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
Publication date: 11/20/2018
Pages: 256
Sales rank: 558,835
Product dimensions: 6.25(w) x 8.29(h) x 1.02(d)

About the Author

ROBIN ROBERTSON was brought up on the northeast coast of Scotland and now lives in London. A Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature, he has published five collections of poetry and has received a number of honors, including the Petrarca-Preis, the E. M. Forster Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, and all three Forward Prizes. His selected poems, Sailing the Forest, was published in 2014. In the UK, The Long Take has won the 2018 Roehampton Poetry Prize and the Goldsmiths Prize for Fiction, and was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize.

Read an Excerpt

from Part II: 1948
The heat was gone. They could feel it.
There was a hectic joy downtown, a release. King Eddy’s six-deep at the bar and still coming.
‘Okay, guys. Best killing in the movies.’
‘Tommy Udo! It’s gotta be Tommy Udo!’
‘That’s up there, sure, but how about Raw Deal
when the broad gets the flambé in the face?’
‘Didn’t kill her, though.’
‘What about T-Men,
when The Schemer gets cooked in the steam-room?’
‘Nice . . .’
‘That other film of his, the Western, what’s it called?
Border Incident! That’s got a death by tractor.’
‘Or Union Station, half a mile away – death by cattle stampede!’
‘I like that shoot-out in the hall of mirrors . . . ’
‘Nah, too classy. I’d vote for Decoy – Jean Gillie crushing her boyfriend with her car.’
‘Yeah, or that chesty dame with the ice-pick, Janis Carter.’
‘He survived . . .’
‘I’d take Raymond Burr in Desperate. Great movie.
The way he goes over the stair-rail at the end and drops four flights. That’s a lulu.’
‘Well, if you’re talking stairs it’s gotta be Tommy Udo, c’mon . . .
‘Yeah: hard to beat that – tying an old lady to her wheelchair then pushing her down a flight of stairs.
Widmark’s first film, and he was dynamite.’
‘Okay. All agreed? Right. Kiss of Death. Udo gets the cake.’
He remembered the German on the barricade who took a magnesium flare in the
chest and went up like a bonfire: so white you couldn’t look, but you couldn’t quite
look away.
He dreamt the mountains were on fire and the flames were gliding down the sides like lava,
the mountains were slipping into the sea which was on fire,
into the city, which was also burning,
and the ground opened up then and he dreamt that he walked away,
streets full of stones,
and he saw a black man black with flame, black leaves falling all around him: a black autumn, coming down.
And Pike, he dreamt of Pike,
pinning him by the throat to the ground, with a knife.
And then he woke.
There was a new crack through the tiles in the bathroom,
running in a straight line from the window to the door.
He was working nights at the Press, nights out on the street,
sharpening now after the turn in the year, the air loosened after the rain, the pavement black and glinting.
There were parts of the city that were pure blocks of darkness,
where light would slip in like a blade to nick it, carve it open:
a thin stiletto, then a spill of white; the diagonal gash of a shadow, shearing; the jagged angle sliding over itself to close; the flick-knife of a watchman’s torch, the long gasp of headlights from nowhere, their yawning light – then just as quickly their falling away:
closed over, swallowed by the oiled, engraining, leaden dark.
He hears someone running but there’s no one there.
His shadow folds into the wall, then along it.
Then gone.
‘Hey, Walker. Wanted in Overholt’s office.’
He went through, past the juniors: Pike, talking over the top of everyone, repeating his punch-line louder each time, harder.
The old man was checking finals, but he pushed them aside.
‘Very well, Walker, you can go this summer. Up to San Francisco.
I like what you’ve done here on this homeless issue,
so we’ll use you as a stringer, see how it goes.
I want a big piece on this, on the whole thing.’
‘You mean the destitute?’
‘Yes. Out on the streets while the mayor and the police commissioner are fine-dining in Chasen’s or Musso’s Back Room.
I mean the fact that two thirds of this city is a fenced-off ghetto;
that there’s graft and corruption running right the way through.
I mean the fact that this is a country where there aren’t enough homes,
enough jobs, where one in six Angelenos are ex-servicemen and they’re lying out on Skid Row –
but all anyone ever talks about is watching for Russians,
HUAC locking up half of Hollywood,
the government building more bombs.
We won the war, but we’re living like we lost it.’
He stood, and went to the window.
‘Things are hotting up, Walker. It’s a good time to go.’


Excerpted from "The Long Take"
by .
Copyright © 2018 Robin Robertson.
Excerpted by permission of Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group.
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