Sightlines Paperback – 5 Apr 2012
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Praise for Findings:
'Kathleen Jamie writes with unparalleled beauty, sharpness of observation, wit, delicacy, strength of vision and rare exactness of language.'(Daily Telegraph)
It finds without disturbing the found. And this takes courage and delicacy (John Berger Guardian Books of the Year)
Her acheivement is to make us look again with completeluy fresh eyes at those creatures and places we had long presumed to know (Mark Cocker)
Five years after Findings broke the mould of nature writing, Sort of Books presents Sightlines - Now a Radio 4 Book of the Week, starting on 23rd AprilSee all Product Description
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Top Customer Reviews
These essays, or perhaps 'meditations' is a better term, range in length from two to about 30 pages, long, and each are beautifully illustrated by stylish b & w photos. Whether describing the synchronised,shining curves of a pod of orcas, the eyes of gannets, "round and fierce, with a rim of weird blue", or the irregular surface of a cancer tumour, named "for the crab, because a cancer tumour sends claws out into the surrounding tissue", her eye continues to offer unusual poetic or challenging perspectives, especially when she pictures parts of the human anatomy as a landscape of land and river margins, mud-flats et al.
Her eye extends to an archaelogical dig, "the bite on the point" of her trowel, and the discovery of the woman in the cist burial. Although her sharp eye also catches the "glowing marshmallow pink" of icebergs in the morning sun during an Arctic cruise, her ear also delights in the charm of the "di-diddle-ditted" of a petrel in its burrow on Rona, responding to the tape recording played at its burrow mouth. There's also the account of her determined attempts to overcome the ocean's might, to finally describe the isolation of St.Kilda at her third attempt, and an almost hypnotic encounter with the curving power of cetacean skeletons in the 'Whale Museum' in Bergen.
Overall, this is an insightful and largely inspiring set of writings, with the marvels of the natural world predominant.Read more ›
But as with Findings, this is more than just `nature writing'. Jamie uses each of her closely observed subjects as a jumping-off point for a meditation on our relationship to the object in question, its position in time and in the world, and its personal significance for her. The result is a series of spare yet lyrical essays that continue to resonate long after you have put the book down. Wonderful.
This sounds like it would be self-indulgent mind-gabble, but it isn't, these are beautifully crafted pieces of work that delight you with their insight and their use of language.
The description of parts of the human body under the microscope as landscape, was a completely original take on a grimly fascinating subject. It isn't all meditation, there's a lovely recollection of an archaeological dig as a teenager and these slivers of biography add to the human interest within the book.
If I hadn't known that Kathleen Jamie was a poet, I would have probably guessed it from her prose. She has an absolute mastery of language but this never distances you from her writing. I enjoyed her humorous description of the (non)trips to St Kilda as much as the more deeply meditative pieces.
Kathleen Jamie's prose output may be relatively sparse, but masterpieces aren't created overnight. Highly recommended, not just to those who enjoy the natural world, but to all who enjoy good writing.
These essays are an eclectic mix, spanning place, subject, and length - some are only a few pages long, others much longer. But nearly all are outstanding in one way or another. Jamie opens the collection with 'Aurora', a description of a journey towards the northern lights that is possibly the best piece she presents here, and certainly my favourite. What Joanna Kavenna struggled to do in hundreds of pages in her turgid 'The Ice Museum', Jamie manages in less than twenty, moving evocatively from a description of the 'colossal, witless indifference' of the surrounding icebergs themselves, to the radar screen that marks them out as a 'rash of green dots'. She is also not above humour, which conveys a vital sense of herself and avoids the overly-stylised journalistic tone that sometimes afflicts travel writing. Reporting that some suggest that you can hear your own nerves working in the Arctic silence, she goes on to say that 'Some people say you can smell icebergs, that they smell like cucumbers. You can smell icebergs and hear your own nervous system. I don't know.'
I have reviewed this first essay in such depth because its strengths are, largely, the strengths of the other essays in this collection.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Beautiful book taking you on a journey with her through Scotlands Highlands and Islands. So beautifully written.Published 2 months ago by susewalk
Disappointing, I must say- was expecting something better, Rob Cowen, Robert MacFarlane, Tim Dee....but no, so donated it to my local charity shop.Published 5 months ago by Mark John
Well written, some chapters not to my choice but interesting observations of naturePublished 7 months ago by Meg
Fabulous book, you will love it if you are keen on the great outdoors adventures in the wilds and nature .Published 7 months ago by Tinker
Some of the most beautiful writing and effortless reading I have ever encountered. Kathleen Jamie manages to invoke some of the clearest imagery and a real sense of place with an... Read morePublished 10 months ago by J F.
This is a collection of memoirs. Indeed it is largely about her travels around the northern and western isles of Scotland, punctuated by visits to an un-named cave in Iberia, and... Read morePublished 10 months ago by M Watkinson
Thoughtful, wistful, and mildly spikey. Kathleen Jamie at her bestPublished 11 months ago by Uneasy Reader
A different view of how we look and feel about things in the natural world. Things we take for granted Jamie makes us take more notice.Published 16 months ago by MRS S WILLIAMS