This review is taken from Stand 231, 19(3) September - December 2021.

Vahni Capildeo, The Dusty Angel (Oystercatcher, 2021)
Ben Bransfield, Judder Men (SmithDoorstop, 2021)
Sarah Wimbush, The Last Dinosaur in Doncaster (SmithDoorstop, 2021)
Majella Kelly, hush (ignitionpress, 2020)
John Greening, The Giddings (Mica, 2021)

Earlier this summer, on my first trip outside Leeds since Lockdown 3, my brother gave me a copy of Don DeLillo’s The Silence – a novel which is set in 2022 and, according to its dust jacket, was completed in the weeks preceding the outbreak of COVID-19. The narrative is concerned with a global catastrophe of another kind, as mobile phones and all other digital systems inexplicably go offline. DeLillo’s latest is gripping and, at around 100 pages, easy to read in a single sitting, unfolding more like a screenplay than a novella. Yet, while The Silence is infused with the author’s characteristic suspicion of humankind’s growing reliance on technology, something about the premise feels stilted. Apart from one sentence towards the end of the novel that makes passing references to face masks and panic in airports (a line that was written not by the author but a rogue editor, according to the New York Times), there is no mention of the virus. Blackout as allegory: strange for a text with a publication date of October 2020. Online reviewers expressed similar reservations. What lesson is there to be gleaned when technology has helped many of us over the last year and a half to be informed, to work and play, to stay connected?

The risk of disconnection between poetic content and formal context has stuck with me as ...
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