‘James Manlow responds brilliantly to W. B. Yeats’s admonition: he has learned his trade, his craft! These poems are remarkably well-made and they are also highly imaginative, playful, deadly serious, sexy, and deeply, deeply human. A terrific debut!’ – Thomas Lux
‘The quietly understated writing in When We Were Slugs sidles in close to us and succeeds, through the poetry of things rather than overt ideas or emotions, in reaching unexpected depths of dislocation, dissociation and engagement. From the controlled decor of cosmonauts’ apartments to a legacy rule-of-thumb for three-pin plugs, from gaming arcades to a 17c domestic genre painting, James Manlow selects eclectically to create a universe of feeling.’ – Anne-Marie Fyfe
‘These are tough but tender poems, attentive to the strange or easily missed moments of life. Whether engaged with recording the intimacies between people, or the workings of the natural world, James Manlow writes with grace and precision, his eyes wide open.’ – Kathryn Simmonds
‘With tenderness and affection, James Manlow’s formally elegant poems explore trapped and halted lives, curtailed emotion. There is nostalgia and melancholy but this is carefully balanced with moments of wonder, revelation and joy.’ – Lorraine Mariner
When We Were Slugs
We spent long afternoons
in the brick’s shade, speaking
about life, vague memories
of shells, how our ancestors
were Land-Snails and Sea-Snails.
It turned out we had both
shared the summer once sealed
to the underside of the water-meter,
the way we have secured ourselves
to bedroom, kitchen, living room,
as if we miss carrying
a house on our backs.
It was a small world then.
I think of those nights,
our glistening trails across the lawn,
how reaching the middle of the garden
we’d suck hard on the flesh
of the fallen fruit, then lean
into the sweetness and mate.
The Lazy Maid
Chin snug in her palm, elbow
plugged firmly in the knobbly joint of her kneecap,
legs a little ajar beneath her skirts,
is sound asleep upon the stool,
dreaming of her mother teaching her
how to scrape parsnips;
which is how at 11.10 p.m.
the mistress of the house
discovers her, stares a while, then
as if almost sensing a stream of watchers on,
looks up, suddenly alive,
flush with wine and mischief,
gifting that wry-wild look
I love this painting for,
saying, It’s too late for this,
and, See what I put up with?
How I adore this girl.
She won’t change. It’s 1655.
It’s late. Let the dishes
alone. Let the cat eat the fish.
When We Were Slugs, Parkgate Press, 2014
Jack Stone waits in a faded hotel room outside Paris, watching the setting sun. The night stretches before him. It will be a night like no other. For in the morning, he knows that he will be arrested.
Jack has ten hours to explain to Inspector Maguire how he ended up here. It seems a lifetime ago that he first met Anne-Marie. When they fell in love, they really believed that their marriage could be written in the stars. Only now can Jack begin to understand what has happened between him and his wife. And slowly he realises that in love, nothing can be predicted…
‘Like Ian McEwan, he imbues the ordinary with a strong feeling of unease… A complete, subtle and affecting first novel.’ – The Independent
‘Compelling.’ – The Observer
‘An entirely original and unique debut.’ – Scottish Daily Record
Attraction, John Murray Publishers, 2004, 2005 (UK)
Attraction, MacAdam-Cage, 2004 (US)
Aantrekkingskracht, Mouria, 2004 (Holland)