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This review is from: George Mackay Brown: The Life (Paperback)
This is a wonderful biography: full of lyrical detail, and with an insight and sensitivity which delivers this self-effacing writer/poet to the reader with a genuine stamp of authenticity. Fergusson covers George's life in remarkable detail throughout, both within Orkney, and his adventures 'sooth' at Newbattle College, Edinburgh University, Rose Street pub/poet 'society', Aberdeen, Ireland et al. Although his creative/dissolute Edinburgh days are well drawn, Fergusson is able to magic an authentic sense of Orkney life, with its precious clear light and fragile Spring/Summer days, and the dark, roaring monster of winter, which grips both body and soul in a chill embrace.
The biography charts a similar pattern of 'rise and fall' in George's creative, and love life, and has a richly supporting cast of poets and writers from Scotland and elsewhere. The text is very well referenced, and interleaved with extracts from his and others work, which is exquisitely chosen to illustrate the points she makes, and has a deeply enriching quality. Drink, religion, love, illness and depression, all weave threads throughout this satisfying tapestry of George's life. At the last though, it is the clear sense of Orcadian magic, a spare, austere beauty, which shimmers in these pages, just as it does in the poetry and the prose of this incomparable island bard. For me, this comes as such a relief after the disappointment of George's bland 'autobiography' For the Islands I Sing: An Autobiography Essential reading.