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A remarkable achievement
on 18 April 2010
The last time writer Andrew Greig visited elderly Scottish poet Norman MacCaig before his death, he asked where his favorite place in the world was. MacCaig, who divided his life between Edinburgh and Assynt in the far north-west replied that it was a remote hill loch. It had been many years since Norman had been fit enough to visit the spot, and he asked Andrew Greig to go for him and catch a wild brown trout. The resulting expedition Greig made with two friends in pursuit of the loch and its trout is the central excuse for this book, but the story is draped in musings and recollections of friends and friendships lost, love, work, art, breakdowns, family, politics and history. It goes beyond being simply a good book to being something that might be described as an achievement.
Greig catptures a certain part of the Scottish psyche - torn just like MacCaig's life between urban and urbane Edinburgh - home of the enlightenment; and the Highlands imbued with the sad romance of the Gael.
I was drawn to this book as an angler in love with Assynt myself, but you needn't fish to enjoy it. Greig himself is no great angler and this is not a book about fishing. Its a book about life, told through the course of a trip to find a secret loch.
Wonderful. The sort of book that when you pass the halfway point makes you begin grieving for the thought of it finishing.