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Sightlines [Paperback]

Kathleen Jamie
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (81 customer reviews)
RRP: £8.99
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Book Description

5 April 2012
The outer world flew open like a door, and I wondered - what is it that we're just not seeing?In this greatly anticipated sequel to Findings, prize-winning poet and renowned nature writer Kathleen Jamie takes a fresh look at her native Scottish landscapes, before sailing north into iceberg-strewn seas. Her gaze swoops vertiginously too; from a countryside of cells beneath a hospital microscope, to killer whales rounding a headland, to the constellations of satellites that belie our sense of the remote. Written with her hallmark precision and delicacy, and marked by moments in her own life, Sightlines offers a rare invitation to pause and to pay heed to our surroundings.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 208 pages
  • Publisher: Sort of Books (5 April 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 095630866X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0956308665
  • Product Dimensions: 13.2 x 19.9 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (81 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 26,245 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


'Immensely beguiling' --Sunday Times

'Exquisite essays' --Scotsman

'The whole book is an experiment in honesty' --Saturday Telegraph

'A work of intense purity and quiet genius, and we're lucky to have it' -- Sunday Telegraph

'I put the book down again and thought: 'I wonder if I would actually kill to be able to write, or think, like that.' It's like this pretty much all the way through.'
--Nicholas Lezard, The Guardian

'A lyrical work of profound insight' --Kirkus Reviews

Book Description

Five years after Findings broke the mould of nature writing, Sort of Books presents Sightlines - Now a Radio 4 Book of the Week, starting on 23rd April

Inside This Book (Learn More)
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Back Cover
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
58 of 60 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Ways of Seeing 25 Mar 2012
By Sentinel TOP 500 REVIEWER
Format:Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
It's been five years since Jamie's collection 'Findings', so I looked forward to this with eager anticipation; nor was I disappointed. She dedicates this collection of pieces to "the island-goers", even though the settings include Bergen, Central Scotland, and a Pathology Lab at Ninewells Hospital in Dundee; happily islands such as Rona, St Kilda and Shetland also appear.

These essays, or perhaps 'meditations' is a better term, range in length from two to about 30 pages, long, and each are beautifully illustrated by stylish b & w photos. Whether describing the synchronised,shining curves of a pod of orcas, the eyes of gannets, "round and fierce, with a rim of weird blue", or the irregular surface of a cancer tumour, named "for the crab, because a cancer tumour sends claws out into the surrounding tissue", her eye continues to offer unusual poetic or challenging perspectives, especially when she pictures parts of the human anatomy as a landscape of land and river margins, mud-flats et al.

Her eye extends to an archaelogical dig, "the bite on the point" of her trowel, and the discovery of the woman in the cist burial. Although her sharp eye also catches the "glowing marshmallow pink" of icebergs in the morning sun during an Arctic cruise, her ear also delights in the charm of the "di-diddle-ditted" of a petrel in its burrow on Rona, responding to the tape recording played at its burrow mouth. There's also the account of her determined attempts to overcome the ocean's might, to finally describe the isolation of St.Kilda at her third attempt, and an almost hypnotic encounter with the curving power of cetacean skeletons in the 'Whale Museum' in Bergen.

Overall, this is an insightful and largely inspiring set of writings, with the marvels of the natural world predominant.
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27 of 28 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Lyrical, contemplative nature writing 2 April 2012
By M. Harrison VINE VOICE
Format:Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Having absolutely loved Findings, Scottish poet Kathleen Jamie's previous collection of essays, I was very excited to read Sightlines. Also inspired by the natural world, it is just as quiet and contemplative, and revisits some of her previous subjects - sea birds, islands, pathology - as well as the aurora borealis, a lunar eclipse, archaeology, whales' jawbones and a dead storm petrel she finds on St Kilda.

But as with Findings, this is more than just `nature writing'. Jamie uses each of her closely observed subjects as a jumping-off point for a meditation on our relationship to the object in question, its position in time and in the world, and its personal significance for her. The result is a series of spare yet lyrical essays that continue to resonate long after you have put the book down. Wonderful.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Very moving 19 Oct 2012
By trishthedish VINE VOICE
Format:Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
I read this book and was moved to tears at times, her sensitivity towards Nature is to be read to be understood. Actually, I felt this book was hard to describe as such, if you like poetry and Nature, you will get it, if you don't you will not. My husband didn't - his loss, so it depends on where you're coming from. If you know the particular areas mentioned around Scotland and the Isles it helps too, don't think you could fail to be moved in that case, unless you're some sort of android. Will now go back and read other work by the author and possibly re-visit some of the sites again.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Exhilarating...... 6 Nov 2012
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase a slow food kind of way

I was a expecting a poetry book but got a collection of essays.

Such a short book but I learned so much and want to explore so much more.

Kathleen Jamie - in that poet's spare, enigmatic way - gives an insight into her background, work, family and nature.

I cheered inside to read that she hadn't come from privilege or gone to university but what an indictment on our (their - Scottish?) education system that such a latent talent could pass through school without being recognised, encouraged or nutured.

Kathleen made me want to look up words, highlight phrases like 'the wind would catch it and send up plumes of rainbow', go beyond 60 degrees latitude, see the aurora borealis, visit the Hval museum, go to remote islands and more.

Her discussions about death and family resonated . By chance, at the same time, I was reading 'Supersense' by Bruce Hood and it's uncanny how Kathleen Jamie reflects the very topics in that book. Can we feel the spirit of land or animals like an echo from the past?

He didn't ask me to but I felt jealous on her husband's behalf at the intimacies of friendship described by Kathleen and of the access that her standing gives her and was positively exhilarated by her description of chasing killer whales around an island!

And all this with words - phew!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Interesting, absorbing and revealing 23 Aug 2012
Format:Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Kathleen Jamie is a Scottish poet. This book is a series of essays roughly grouped round the concept of 'the natural'. This is a wide field encompassing such subjects as Aurora, Pathology, the Hvalsalen (the Whale Hall at Bergen Museum). Natural doesn't necessarily mean living or sentient, but Jamie pulls them all together so that we can appreciate the connections.

These essays are in prose and I hesitate to say that the language is poetic because that term is frequently used damningly (and wrongly) to summon up ideas of flowery epithets and a generally precious and pretentious form of writing. Kathleen Jamie's writing is crystal clear. It is sharp and vivid and when she does use figures of speech they are apt and to the point. I think my favourite was her description of icebergs:
"Some people say you can smell icebergs . . . I smell nothing but colossal, witless indifference."

I really enjoyed this book and I was not sure I was going to. It is a book that I shall revisit, because I think it has a lot more to give than a first reading would discover. She made me consider at things I had largely ignored before and look at them in a way that I would not have thought of doing myself. Highly recommended.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Published 1 day ago by nimbus
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful - Kathleen Jamie does it again
Exquisitely beautiful prose and the whole book is an exercise in mindful looking and then a fearless paring back so that what is shared with the reader is considered and worked. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Victoria Field
3.0 out of 5 stars for all its best intentions, is a bland repetitive experiment
Sightlines, for all its best intentions, is a bland repetitive experiment. Despite an intention of naturalism, without romanticism as the critics insist, this collection of essays... Read more
Published 2 months ago by om
5.0 out of 5 stars A book with many layers.
I had never read any of her work before this, but am now anxious to read more. I was intrigued by the idea of a blind person forming a relationship with someone with second sight,... Read more
Published 6 months ago by Lynne Sawyer
5.0 out of 5 stars Extraordinary
Superlative sort of covers it.
As a reading magpie this fascinated me. And will always do so.
Incredible variety and such a range of interests. Read more
Published 6 months ago by Catherine E. C. Hammond
1.0 out of 5 stars A disappointing second book
" Bats- a cluster of whom, like a scrunch of black pubic hair, hang from the roof above" (p. 165). I'm not keen on the poetic style. Read more
Published 8 months ago by K. Brent
1.0 out of 5 stars dissapointing
this book was one I've had the unfortunate pleasure of reading as part of an English course. not only does Jamie demonstrate an uncanny ability to bore the reader half to sleep,... Read more
Published 9 months ago by sally
5.0 out of 5 stars She made me look at the natural world in a different way.
The descriptions in Kathleen Jamie's amazing biography "Sightlines: A Conversation with the Natural World" are so vivid she made me see and feel as if I was with her. Read more
Published 10 months ago by Niki Collins-queen, Author
5.0 out of 5 stars Again five stars for Kathleen Jamie
Always something new. A journey taken with open eyes that see so much that few of us see and read about. Well done Kathleen.
Published 10 months ago by William Riley
5.0 out of 5 stars Really rather wonderful
This is a really rather remarkable book. Normally I would recommend a book on the basis of the majority of its pages. But this one is different. Read more
Published 11 months ago by Stewart M
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