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The Photographer at Sixteen Reviews

The Photographer at Sixteen by George Szirtes

The Photographer at Sixteen: The Death and Life of a Fighter

George Szirtes

Score pending

2 reviews

Imprint: MacLehose Press
Publisher: Quercus Publishing
Publication date: 7 Feb 2019
ISBN: 9780857058539

A poet's memoir of his mother that flows backwards through time, and excavates a shard of European history - a deeply honest, tender and yet unsentimental autobiographical journey.

4 stars out of 5
Ian Critchley
10 Feb 2019

"a beautifully written and utterly compelling narrative"

...this wonderful memoir can be seen as his attempt to unearth and capture her life. Unusually structured, the book works backwards from the moment of Magda’s death, using Szirtes’s own memories of her, and those of his father and brother, as well as photographs and other materials, to piece together a fascinating portrait... Even if the book’s narrative was confined to just these momentous events, it would be remarkable, but Szirtes uses his poet’s eye to build images and details that bring his mother superbly to life... Although sometimes frustratingly fragmentary, this is a beautifully written and utterly compelling narrative.

Reviews

5 stars out of 5
Miranda Seymour
25 Jan 2019

"a courageous and remarkable achievement"

Reading the Hungarian-born poet George Szirtes’s delicately forensic exploration of an impossibly passionate mother whose abrupt death...it becomes clear how little overtly dramatic content counts, compared with the sensibility — and, above all, the impulse towards honesty — of the writer... Like WG Sebald, the German-born writer known for his meditative juxtaposition of words and images, Szirtes makes careful use of photographs within his text; unlike Sebald, he subjects each to a piercing analysis... Szirtes has made her monument. It is a courageous and remarkable achievement. I’ve read no memoir that moved me more.