The Photographer at Sixteen by George Szirtes review – a brilliant, scrupulous portrait

This post is by Blake Morrison from Books | The Guardian

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For the first time in prose, the poet writes about his mother, a survivor of the Holocaust

George Szirtes’s mother Magda had a strong will and a weak heart. The weakness dated back to childhood, when she had rheumatic fever, and left her at risk of an early death. The strength came out in the plans she made for her husband László to marry again after she’d gone. She chose a wife for him and expected him to comply. László played along but only to keep her happy. The marriage didn’t take place. Nor did Magda die from a weak heart.

The ambulance was waiting at the junction. She had taken an overdose and time was short. The driver thought he saw a gap, moved forward, then stopped because the gap wasn’t big enough. The car behind ran into the back of the ambulance. The ambulance was damaged. Drivers got ...