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The Perfect Stranger

P.J. Kavanagh

Cover of The Perfect Stranger by P.J. Kavanagh
Categories: 21st Century, British, Memoirs
Imprint: Lives and Letters
Publisher: Carcanet Press
Available as:
Paperback (192 pages)
(Pub. Jul 1995)
9781857541786
Out of Stock
  • Description
  • Author
  • Reviews
  • P.J.Kavanagh's early years were full of incident and adventure: the comedy, passion and the abrupt tragedy of that life are recounted in what Richard Ingrams described as 'one of the best memoirs I have read — a brilliant self-portrait by a born writer with a humorous, poetic and genuinely religious outlook on life.' For Michael Frayn The Perfect Stranger is 'a fine memorial to youth and love — perhaps to the youth and love of all our generation'.

    From a Butlin holiday camp to Switzerland and then Paris, to a battlefield in Korea, to Oxford and Barcelona, and finally to Java, his life made little sense to him until 'something extraordinary happened': he met 'the perfect stranger' of the title, with its oblique tribute to Louis MacNeice.

    This tender, funny and unsentimental record of the uniqueness of human love, with its shocking conclusion, is a poet's tribute of thanks.
    P.J. Kavanagh was born in England in 1931, and worked as a lecturer, actor and broadcaster, as well as a writer. His Collected Poems were published in 1992, the year in which he was given the Cholmondeley Award for poetry. His memoir The Perfect Stranger won the Richard Hillary Prize in ... read more
    'To hear the truth so devastatingly and yet so joyfully encountered is rare in an age where autobiography has been flattened by the massed weight of political and public reminiscence. This autobiography, from its beginning to its bitter end, is a celebration of joy: joy in youth, in woman, in male camaraderie, in the struggle of art, in married love.'
    Times Literary Supplement 
    Praise for P.J. Kavanagh 'There is plenty of quietly glittering intellect in these poems... he has an eye for rural things, birds, plants, weather; all are subdued to the colour of his own mind, its knowledge of loss, its recurrent perception of the world as a place to which it belongs and does not belong... this collection amply demonstrates Kavanagh's distinguished place among contemporary poets.'
    Frank Kermode
    'The pleasure of reading these poems is the pleasure of exceptionally good company. Kavanagh has exactly the right kind of curiosity - neither pedantic nor trifling, but casual in the best sense.'
    Wynn Wheldon, Spectator
    'There is plenty of quietly glittering intellect in these poems... he has an eye for rural things, birds, plants, weather; all are subdued to the colour of his own mind, its knowledge of loss, its recurrent perception of the world as a place to which it belongs and does not belong... this collection amply demonstrates Kavanagh's distinguished place among contemporary poets.'
    Frank Kermode
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