First Light: A Celebration of Alan Garner Hardcover – 5 May 2016
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"Now comes First Light, a celebration of the work of Alan Garner, whose books explore the mysterious subterranean links between the present and the past, between psychology and landscape, between the real and the dream. If the rocks, caves, lakes, fens, bogs and dens of the land of Britain had a voice, it would sound like Alan Garner telling a story." (Philip Pullman)
"Highly enjoyable… Not just a tribute to Garner, but a homage to the power of writing and storytelling" (Guardian)
"A life-affirming joy." (Glasgow Herald)
"A wonderful collection." (Fortean Times)
A tribute to the life and work of Alan Garner by some of the most celebrated writers, artists and academics of our time.See all Product description
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It’s beautifully presented and printed, though at first sight the cover picture seems a little dull.
Secondly as Garner fans we find that we are in rather good company, with a former Archbishop, a TV archaeologist, astrophysicists, a famous comedian, and many more contributing essays.
Thirdly we find out new information (well new to me anyway) as to the particularly good company Alan Garner kept. In fact the book’s otherwise rather dull cover picture of Alan Garner running turns out to be a well-chosen window into an intriguing story of what happened when he met Alan Turing.
Finally (for this short review) many of these contributions contain a wealth of material that gives so many new insights into Garner’s writing (particularly the Stone Quartet) that I feel myself being dragged into doing something I have virtually never do, which is reread a work of fiction. Can there be a better accolade for a book on Alan Garner than the fact that it pulls you back to reread works of his that we all thought we already knew well?
The quality of the contributions varies, but the total effect is more than the sum of its parts. Some of the big literary names are the least successful, even downright lazy, but they serve to draw in the casual reader to find the richer stuff. There’s a very funny report by a physicist of how Garner made him look twice at what was staring him in the face. An archaeologist starts with, ‘Alan Garner make you think.’ A historian shows how Garner has taken legend apart to find prehistory. Alan Turing's biographer gives a heartrending account of the friendship between the two men. But the finest contribution is a poem by Rowan Williams, previous Archbishop of Canterbury, written in honour of Garner. With piercing clarity he gets to the heart of the novelist, the poet, the philosopher, the visionary, the man. ‘First Light’ would be worth buying for the poem alone.