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Edgelands Paperback – 2 Feb 2012

4.1 out of 5 stars 41 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage (2 Feb. 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0099539772
  • ISBN-13: 978-0099539773
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 1.7 x 19.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (41 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 118,969 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product description

Review

"This book is a delight: witty and wryly contrarian" (Robert MacFarlane Guardian)

"A masterpiece of its kind... Even more uplifting is the chapter on weather - truly one of the most extraordinary passages of prose I have read in some time... This is, quite simply, beautiful, but it is also typical of a beautifully conceived work of exploration, by two emissaries to the wilderness who do the wasteland proud" (John Burnside The Times)

"Marvellously quirky, fascinatingly detailed and beautifully written" (Daily Telegraph)

"The edgelands, where the veneer of civilisation peels away, are the most despised and ignored of landscapes. Ambition turns to dust in the sewage farm and landfill site. But Farley and Roberts's mischievous and elegant forays into these marginal wastes, show that dust turns back to life in them - into riotous ecologies, agitprop architecture and the wonderful business of playing. A provocative, left-field read" (Richard Mabey)

"Haunting, often inspiring book...Edgelands covers an impressive range of politics, reminiscence, investigation and rumination" (Scotland on Sunday)

Book Description

Shortlisted for the 2012 Royal Society of Literature Ondaatje Prize and winner of the Foyles Best Book of Ideas Prize - this is a book about the blank spaces on the A-Z: the lost and unloved 'edgelands' between cities and countryside

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By rayc on 22 Mar. 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
The authors are at their strongest when they align their tour with literary insights - poetry and prose - from other authors, but this doesn't occur often enough to sustain interest. By definition, the edgelands of England aren't the most inspiring places, but there is not enough delight in the quotidian; too much sentimental glancing back at the playgrounds of childhood. There is a disjointed feel to the chapters and a sense of padding out to reach the required word count.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Enjoyed reading this, though not sure it was what I expected. Provided me with a few different perspectives, which is always a good thing.
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Format: Hardcover
I had some lingering doubts when 'Edgelands' was first published. Two poets trying to expose some of the wildnerness areas - and especially in the north west - that I'd come to regard as my own. Lyrical when lyricism just wasn't there or just an attempt to tart them up for wider public exposure. Rather selfish now I come to think about it - a bit like being really annoyed when somebody reveals a magically secluded and jealously guarded holiday spot.

Paul Farley and Michael Symmons Roberts: to you I apologise. What convinced me to buy the book and to recommend it to others was your compelling reading on Radio Four's Book of the Week at the end of April. (I tuned in at 9.45 in the morning and, to the repeat at 12.30 at night when it was a delightful preface to the shipping forecast.)

In the opening chapter, the authors gave credit to where credit's due - to Richard Mabey for the originality of his work nearly 40 years ago, to Alan Berger's 'Drosscope' where the edgelands were set out in a uniquely American way, and to Marion Shoard who did what we'd all like to have done and added the word to our lexicon.

I've noticed, probably only in the last 12 months, how often real ctitics and reviewers of the arts have referred to something that's just a bit different or with a hint, perhaps, of the avant-garde as 'edgy'. Farley and Symmons Roberts have gone a lot further than that in taking us into places where we may once have hesitated to ventue. they have brought to us a new regard for often marginal areas which might have been dismissed as ugly, even threatening, wasteland.
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Format: Hardcover
Edgelands is about those vague and undefined places that surround our towns and cities, damaged places, changing places, burnt, bombed and abandoned places - places that we pass through when going somewhere else.

This book comes as a natural extension of "The Unofficial Countryside" by Richard Mabey - a book which is referenced early in Edgelands and one which has clearly had an influence on the thinking of the authors. But while Mabey focuses on the natural places and spaces, the two authors of Edgelands focus on human spaces and impacts. If Maybe's book is an ecology of wastelands, then this book is about the sociology or even philosophy of the same spaces.

"Edgelands" are clearly a mixture of the native and the manmade, a synthesis of the natural and the artificial, and this mixture seems to have entered the nature of the book itself.

It may be just me, but I found that the authors reached for other people words just a little too often, so that the book becomes more of a synthesis of other people thoughts rather than the notably original synthesis that Mabey managed about the same (or at least similar) ground.

Now this does not make this a poor book - far from it, but I cant give it the rave review that other people have done.

In summary - this is an interesting, very well written book about an overlooked landscape. I would recommend it to anybody who has an interest in landscape history and / or philosophy, but I am not completely convinced that the book does not say many things that have been said elsewhere.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I'd heard good things about this book - I enjoy finding splendour in the apparently mundane, the liminal inbetween, so Edgelands seemed like it was going to be something I'd greatly enjoy. Unfortunately the book is a kind of Edgelands in reverse; it looks wonderful on the surface, but is actually empty when you begin to explore it.

The authors get off to a bad start by being rather sniffy about "intellectual" psychogeographers, and I'm afraid it's all downhill from there. The book consists of a series of rather arbitrarily chosen chapters ("Wire", "Bridges", "Sewage"), broken up into vignettes relating to each chapter heading. The trouble is, there's no sense of narrative flow, no goal to the text, no sense of discovery - instead, there are lots of "what if?" "maybe one day..." conjectures that are frankly rather patronising ("If you are going to get spiritual, you really need a path to walk, preferably through trees to add a brooding atmosphere. Where would yours be?" they ask, like primary school teachers addressing a class).

The text is also rather repetitive; there's only so many times you can hear about drivers "unwinding" roundabouts before you want to shut the book with a sigh. The authors have clearly followed Geoff Manaugh's BLDG blog template of imagining untold futures, but they just don't have the flair or depth of foresight to pull it off. It's rather easy to be seduced by the ideas of the unexplored, forgotten hinterlands, but when you actually think about what the authors are writing about, you quickly realise that there is no real point to the book; they don't really say anything profound or thought-provoking, they don't move you or encourage you to see things differently, the book is just sort of "nice".

It wasn't for me. Disappointing.
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