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The Reason Why, John LucasFront jacket of the pamphlet showing a lino cut of a man on an old fashioned bicycle. He is wearing a sleeveless, v-necked jumper in an old knitted silt, with an open necked shirt under it. He sits up with his hair blowing backwards and his handlebar moustache merrily flying sideways. The sky is pale blue. Everything else is black and white. It is very striking.

Shoestring Press, 2016    £6.00

A sentence worth waiting for

Lovely gift, this pamphlet. The linocuts by Sarah Kirby are delicious, as you can see from the front cover (there are four more inside), and the prose narrative matches them perfectly. The whole publication is quirky and attractive, nostalgically evoking a bygone age. No, it’s not a poetry pamphlet. This one is prose — but it’s prose by a poet.

My OPOI is sentence structure. Hardly a point of beauty normally, but trust me: John Lucas does such a fine job on lovely, looping phrases that they’re a pleasure to read. Many a sentence goes on longer than you would think reasonable and yet you never fall off – and all in the context of a Last-of-the-Summer-Wine-type intrigue, bicycle and all:

When, next morning, his body was discovered by the in-coming day Constable, a doctor was at once summoned, who at a guess later to be confirmed by the police pathologist, identified the cause of death as a massive stroke, conceivably brought on by the Sergeant’s fifty-a-day habit plus his preference for red or processed meat, including Faggots, Chitterlings and Hog’s Pudding.

The living policement who takes over the job, may feel scornful, but he does not merely curl his lip. The sentence itself curls:

Sergeant Luckhurst felt his upper lip make a motion he understood to be that which in popular fiction was known as curling.

This pamphlet is limited to an edition of only 100 copies. Irresistible.

Helena Nelson