Content and publishing
The 200+ page novel is composed of verse and prose. The protagonist is Walker, who is an allied war veteran who served during the invasion of Normandy in 1944. He was born in Nova Scotia, but has hallucinatory memories and does not want to go back home. He instead goes to New York, San Francisco and Los Angeles. He heads to New York first and happens to meet film noir director Robert Siodmak at a bar. He sees the making of various noir films and this helps in setting timelines within the novel. He works at docks and later moves to Los Angeles and starts writing for a newspaper. His work takes him to San Francisco where he reports on the situation of homeless citizens. Ironically, when he returns to Los Angeles, his neighborhood is being destroyed to make way for new infrastructure. Various other characters in the novel include Billy Idaho, who is a Utah Beach veteran and narrates the history of Los Angeles to Walker. Another veteran Frank, known as "Glassface", was the victim of torture by Nazi Party's Hitlerjugend (Hitler Youth). Pike is a reporter and his character is used to represent the future youth and internet culture of selfies. The narrative also brings out references to other historical events like Highland Clearances and Trail of Tears.
Before The Long Take, Robertson had published six poetry collections and was the editor for various notable novelists and poets like John Banville, Anne Enright, James Kelman, Irvine Welsh, Anne Carson and Alice Oswald.