playtime review – boyhood laid bare

This post is by Kate Kellaway from Books | The Guardian

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Andrew McMillan’s candid exploration of gay adolescence is sensational

Andrew McMillan’s poetry is see-through – it lets us understand, in an uncensored way, how it was to grow up as a gay boy. His much-praised physical made his name and this new collection is another negotiation with the body – the body that, as it were, has a mind of its own.

The collection includes disturbing, unmediated bulletins from adolescence’s frontline. The poems have an anecdotal immediacy and are presented in an unpunctuated lower case. In “what 1.6% of young men know”, he writes about teenage boys who starve to acquire the perfect body and how this leads not to glory on the playing fields but to a more humiliating destination: “…they will end up in the carpark of the doctors”. One notes, in several poems, the decision to shy away from the first person, to keep ...