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Edgelands Paperback – 2 Feb 2012
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"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)
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 countrysideSee all Product description
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Top Customer Reviews
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.Read more ›
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.
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.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I heard the abridged version on Radio 4 Book of the Week, and really enjoyed the idea of the edgelands, and the way it was written. Read morePublished 13 months ago by Alison Kay
A lovely book about forgotten and overlooked places. Makes me look at the urban environment in a whole new way.Published 14 months ago by Mr. M. Enser
Poetic journey into the magical spaces that surround us, yet we pass through without realising, noticing. But they are there- silent, brooding places.Published 22 months ago by Conor Magee
These authors give the game away on page 9, when they start slagging off other writers. They are clearly profoundly embittered that Iain Sinclair, amongst others, got there way... Read morePublished 23 months ago by S. Kaye-Smith
Interesting book about the bits of land we often ignore, at the edges of towns or roads and how these are home to plants and animals who might otherwise have nowhere else to live... Read morePublished on 18 Jun. 2015 by Carlyle
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