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07May

Not Even This by Jack Underwood review – an immensely likable voice

A poet confronts his anxieties about becoming a parent in this free-wheeling meditation on the theme of uncertainty

About three years ago, the poet Jack Underwood became a father for the first time. The responsibility weighed heavily: he recalls “feeling that there should have been more paperwork. We signed a form or two and then they just sort of let us take you away. A human child.” A few months later, he started having panic attacks – his love for his daughter had rendered him “utterly fucked with worry”. He decided to write about it, which helped: “my breathing regulated, my thoughts took shape, giving direction to my feelings; finding my thinking voice was like opening an enormous valve.” The resulting book is a thoughtful essay-memoir on parenthood, in which Underwood recounts how he learned to manage his angst – “to live within the fear” – by embracing uncertainty.

Underwood’s dread gave way to a sanguine sense of purpose and self-sacrifice

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