Jack Underwood’s love for his daughter contrasts horribly with my own cack-handed disasters of parenting, giving me further reasons to dislike Not Even This. I was already prepared to be heartily annoyed by a self-congratulatory record of the joys and successes of his principled parenting. I was looking forward to it.
But, disappointingly, I was charmed by this book. For a start, it is a courageous endeavour, trying to engage a reader in such an esoteric and personal set of musings. They are so rarefied and so meticulous that there is no room for pretention. He is thoughtful, honest and sincere, unashamed of his abstruse cerebrations and heartfelt in his feelings for his daughter. It’s sweet.
And his prose is beautifully lucid. In fact, when he distils these vivid thoughts down into poetry, they seem banal and tepid by comparison: fragments of summary, abstruse and imageless referents, of what he has already discussed so movingly.