Too many are dead, but jobs are dying too, all over.
The virus reveals the flaw
In our way of living: the rich fly it around the planet
And dump it on the doorsteps of the poor.
Louis MacNeice’s Autumn Journal, written August to December 1938, was an immediate personal response to the public events of those months and the mood on the streets. ‘It is the nature of this poem,’ a prefatory note declared, ‘to be neither final nor balanced.’
In Spring Journal, written between March and late August 2020, the novelist Jonathan Gibbs replies to MacNeice and redeploys his form in an urgent, fluent act of witness to the events of this Covid year. Angry, desperately sad, self-aware, sceptical about what writing is for, the book is both a week-by-week record and something ‘carved from chaos’.
‘Jonathan Gibbs has done an extraordinary thing with his response to Autumn Journal. He has created a restless, questing, witty, urgent piece of journalist-poetry (to use MacNeice’s own phrase), so particularly of the surreal and helter-skelter times we’ve recently lived through it seems both to chronicle and to make sense of them in real time.’
– Lucy Caldwell, author of Multitudes
‘It’s a triumph. I’ll be buying copies for all my friends because this is going to be my bible and companion in the dark months to come. Line after line sings with truth.’
– Linda Grant, author of When I Lived in Modern Times and A Stranger City
From reviews of Jonathan Gibbs’ novels:
‘Funny and heartbreaking, intelligent and fiercely gripping.’ – Alex Preston
‘Gibbs has worked a double shift, disguising a well-turned tale of family secrecy as an acerbic essay on recent cultural history without short-changing the demands of either form.’
The Large Door (2019):
‘At once beautifully controlled and acrobatic.’
– Kate McLaughlin, TLS
‘It is poised, suspenseful and enigmatic, with a hint of brute eroticism. More than that, it has heart.’
– Financial Times