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Rambling Sid Rumpo (Oxford, UK)

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Sightlines
Sightlines
by Kathleen Jamie
Edition: Paperback
Price: £6.29

4.0 out of 5 stars Tender and thoughtful, 31 Oct 2012
This review is from: Sightlines (Paperback)
Sightlines is an exercise in looking at nature. Like its predecessor, "Findings", its primary fault is that it uses a transparent creative formula, however, the quality of the writing has sharpened and become denser since the first collection of essays Jamie published, and, in this sense, it feels stronger. If there is still a tendency to avoid the kind of earnestness that might deepen some of the thoughts touched on in the essays, there's none the less an attention to that which we can take for granted that in and of itself is a useful exercise. The finest pieces are those that unfold in prose-poems and in which the artifice of the structure of the essays becomes unpredictable - a wonderful essay on the moon and on a moth with its leg in its eye stand out. Here, perhaps, we see Jamie's most original work, where she seems to adapt her poems into something longer and more meditative.


The Book of Barely Imagined Beings: A 21st Century Bestiary
The Book of Barely Imagined Beings: A 21st Century Bestiary
by Caspar Henderson
Edition: Hardcover

16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Illuminated and illuminating, 22 Oct 2012
It's appropriate, in the case of Henderson's modern bestiary, that the book is both a thing of beauty and a challenge to our perception of beauty in nature. In an A to Z of some of the weird and wonderful creatures thrown up by the blind processes of evolution, Henderson has managed to turn his own curiosity about nature into a thought-provoking, complex expression of us and the rest of the earth. The breadth of research beggars belief and the use of marginalia to squeeze every ounce of information into the book is a playful and fascinating way of illuminating some of the ideas in the chapters. This is a book of delights to remind us why we should care about our increasingly imperilled planet and its bizarre and beautiful forces of transformation.


Aftermath: On Marriage and Separation
Aftermath: On Marriage and Separation
by Rachel Cusk
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £10.39

5 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Brave and insightful, 20 Sep 2012
It's interesting to see that those inspired to write reviews about this are wholly, almost aggressively negative. Cusk clearly annoys and alienates readers not because she's a poor writer but because she unsettles them and tackles unpopular subjects.

The aftermath of a marriage is an absolutely valid subject for communication. She was careful to avoid any considerable direct discussion of the man from whom she was separating, and instead we are given a portrait of the ambivalence, self-absorption, confusion and distress of separation. It seems extraordinary to me that people react with such vehemence to this book and the reviews are unrepresentative of the actual quality of the work. It just goes to show the extent to which we applaud writers that confirm our beliefs about ourselves and others, and attack those that present a less comfortable vision of the world.

There are problems with the book - it's perhaps too raw, in places, and the wider significance of the author's psychology is neglected. None the less, as a brave expression of one individual's messy experience of love and its collapse, this is thought-provoking stuff.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Feb 5, 2013 9:37 PM GMT


The Social Conquest of Earth
The Social Conquest of Earth
by Edward O. Wilson
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £18.99

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Should be required reading, 20 Sep 2012
Written to be approachable and understood as widely as possible. This is a humane and thoughtful attempt to synthesize the branches of research into our history as a species and provide the most likely explanation of how we came to be as we are.


Regeneration
Regeneration
by Meirion Jordan
Edition: Paperback
Price: £8.51

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful and suggestive, 17 Sep 2012
This review is from: Regeneration (Paperback)
I was led to this book by a friend and was deeply impressed. It's ambitious, suggestive and marks him out among his contemporaries. Read it.


Findings
Findings
by Kathleen Jamie
Edition: Paperback
Price: £6.99

18 of 20 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Understated enjoyment, 28 Mar 2012
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Findings (Paperback)
I was a little disappointed by Findings, having bought it on the strength of prior reviews. It's written in delicate, straightforward prose, with occasional moments of beautiful observation, and with some laugh-out-loud descriptions too, which were a real pleasure to read. Findings is a collection of essays about the natural world, our common day-to-day lives, and our strange juxtaposition with nature. There's nothing new in what Jamie says - these aren't philosophical essays or encouragements to deeper thought about nature. Jamie's central point is to encourage us to pay closer to attention to nature, and she persuades by doing so herself, and writing with as close an eye as she can. By far the strongest essay in the collection actually takes place indoors, when she visits the museum collection of a hospital. It's a strange, intoxicating moment, which creates a powerful atmosphere. However, the essays seem like a series of extended pieces of journalism. She uses the same technique to frame each of them, so that after a while, rather than reading like an unfolding perspective on nature, they become a bit predictable.


The Expanding Circle: Ethics, Evolution, and Moral Progress
The Expanding Circle: Ethics, Evolution, and Moral Progress
by Peter Singer
Edition: Paperback
Price: £10.60

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Consciousness expanding, 28 Mar 2012
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
There's a big debate about Singer's philosophy, with some accusing him of dehumanising the human subject to make a philosophical point and others lauding him as the great modern pioneer of animal rights. But The Expanding Circle steers clear of any of the philosophical arguments Singer has made that have caused such a schism. In its simplest terms, this is an elegant, heart-warming essay on the capacities of human reasoning to increase our care for others, for those of other nations, and for other species too. It will inspire you to try harder to be compassionate and responsible, without making you feel guilty. And it places the impact of evolutionary biology on ethics into good perspective.


Garage: Poems (Salt Modern Poets)
Garage: Poems (Salt Modern Poets)
by Aaron Fagan
Edition: Paperback
Price: £3.05

5.0 out of 5 stars Heavenly half-pipe, 26 July 2007
It is rare that young poets divest the estatescapes of the modern world with genuine lyrical potential, or set their tongues upon social concerns without making mockery of either the vulgar or the Tradition. Aaron Fagan succeeds almost miraculously in this task, skateboarding through his language and vision where angels fear to tread. These are Miltonian risks, yet infused with more of Whitman's considered humanity for the everyman. Buy the book for the heavenly ending...


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