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Sightlines Paperback – 5 Apr 2012

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Product details

  • Paperback: 208 pages
  • Publisher: Sort of Books; 1st Edition edition (5 April 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 095630866X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0956308665
  • Product Dimensions: 13.1 x 2 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (88 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 38,629 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

Review

Praise for Findings:

'Kathleen Jamie writes with unparalleled beauty, sharpness of observation, wit, delicacy, strength of vision and rare exactness of language.'

(Daily Telegraph)

It finds without disturbing the found. And this takes courage and delicacy (John Berger Guardian Books of the Year)

Her acheivement is to make us look again with completeluy fresh eyes at those creatures and places we had long presumed to know (Mark Cocker)

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

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

59 of 61 people found the following review helpful By Sentinel TOP 500 REVIEWER on 25 Mar. 2012
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 By M. Harrison VINE VOICE on 2 April 2012
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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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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Laura T TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 17 April 2012
Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
I'm a great fan of the increasingly popular genre of 'nature writing', with recent favourites including Robert Macfarlane's 'The Wild Places' and Philip Connors' 'Fire Season'. However, although it is not a genre that tends to produce terrible books, it can tend towards mediocrity; good descriptive writing abounds but truly exceptional work is rare. That's why I was delighted to discover this marvellous book of essays - and sad that I hadn't come across Kathleen Jamie's work earlier. ('Findings', her first collection, has shot right to the top of my to-read list).

These essays are an eclectic mix, spanning place, subject, and length - some are only a few pages long, others much longer. But nearly all are outstanding in one way or another. Jamie opens the collection with 'Aurora', a description of a journey towards the northern lights that is possibly the best piece she presents here, and certainly my favourite. What Joanna Kavenna struggled to do in hundreds of pages in her turgid 'The Ice Museum', Jamie manages in less than twenty, moving evocatively from a description of the 'colossal, witless indifference' of the surrounding icebergs themselves, to the radar screen that marks them out as a 'rash of green dots'. She is also not above humour, which conveys a vital sense of herself and avoids the overly-stylised journalistic tone that sometimes afflicts travel writing. Reporting that some suggest that you can hear your own nerves working in the Arctic silence, she goes on to say that 'Some people say you can smell icebergs, that they smell like cucumbers. You can smell icebergs and hear your own nervous system. I don't know.'

I have reviewed this first essay in such depth because its strengths are, largely, the strengths of the other essays in this collection.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Mrs. K. A. P. Wright TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 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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