Mr B's review
Surfacing is a seamless fusion of memoir, travelogue and nature writing, which delves into what reconnects us to our past. In these 12 quietly moving and important essays, as with previous works like Findings, Jamie shows off her ability to be simultaneously poetic and thought provoking. From the archaeology of Hunter-Gatherers in Alaska, Neolithic Farmers in Scotland, to her changing family, Jamie links them all with her observations and exquisite prose.
“A beautifully produced essay collection that spirals back through interests and themes traced over the past 40 years of Jamie’s career, as well as forwards into an unknown future… To read a Jamie essay is to be given a fresh lens through which to view the world.” Amanda Bell, Irish Times
Under the ravishing light of an Alaskan sky, objects are spilling from the thawing tundra linking a Yup’ik village to its hunter-gatherer past. In the shifting sand dunes of a Scottish shoreline, impressively preserved hearths and homes of Neolithic farmers are uncovered. In a grandmother’s disordered mind, memories surface of a long-ago mining accident and a ‘mither who was kind’.
In this luminous new essay collection, acclaimed author Kathleen Jamie visits archeological sites and mines her own memories – of her grandparents, of youthful travels – to explore what surfaces and what reconnects us to our past. As always she looks to the natural world for her markers and guides. Most movingly, she considers, as her father dies and her children leave home, the surfacing of an older, less tethered sense of herself.
Surfacing offers a profound sense of time passing and an antidote to all that is instant, ephemeral, unrooted.
Praise for Sightlines:
A sorceress of the essay form. Never exotic, down to earth, she renders the indefinable to the reader’s ear — John Berger Kathleen Jamie is a supreme listener … clear, subtle, respectful, and so unquenchably curious that it makes the world anew — Richard Mabey A book of unparalleled beauty and rare exactness of language * Sunday Telegraph * I put the book down again and thought: ‘I wonder if I would actually kill to be able to write, or think, like that’ — Nicholas Lezard * Guardian * It is not often that the prose of a poet is as powerful as her verse, but Jamie’s is — Diana Athill * Literary Review *
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