29 August 2019, The Tablet

Towards the end

Towards the end

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Kathleen Jamie (pictured), asked to recommend the best books of 2019 on Twitter, nominates her own – “third in the loose trilogy, essays, prose poems … nature, culture, time, memory”. There’s confidence for you. Or, perhaps, honesty. Jamie is the most honest writer; she is what my Glaswegian father-in-law would have described as a “good plain lassie”. It’s a compliment: it means, you get what you see. No artifice.

It’s seven years since Sightlines, and seven years more since Findings, the collection which heralded a renaissance in landscape writing. Then, musing on Findings’ gestation, she said, “the draw for me is the sense of time, of the long past still being with us”. The public loved her simplicity, the mix of the domestic with the natural world. The collection defied classification: “We had a horror … of it turning up in the body, mind and spirit section”. Its runaway popularity, she thought, was because “it’s land and landscape described by an indigene. Not someone arriving as a tourist.”

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