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The Outrun, your first novel, follows your history of recovering from Orkney spirits, is a mixture of memoirs and natural writing: a very visceral type. Is the term "natural remedy" something you believe in? The reason the notebook is quite visa-eral is because it was published at the same moment I went through it, often from the everyday journals I keep.
It mainly takes place in the period when I was living on the small isle of Papay, and that is also the period when I wrote the work. In the small home on the Isle, this one I had the room to find out what was going on with me, how I had ended up with a drinking issue and rehabilitation and what was helping me to get to know the Isle, the peoples and cultures and the coast and the seabirds and the changes in the ocean.
Mostly I think that what I found most worthwhile was not just a stroll, but the period in which I was in the countryside, either physical, by swim in the ocean, by hibernation, or something like the construction of dry stone wall. Whilst all this shit did help me learn about the birds and connect with something greater than just me - while I'm interested in it, what particularly interested me is what I was doing about the bird and the place and the fact that I had found a great new resource and wrote more and better than I had done when I was angry.... that helps me stay calm.
So, I wrote about the place and sobered up, but the letter itself kept me dry and also helped me in my recover. If you are reading other poeple who write about the outdoors, or go for a swim, or other focal points of your own work, what are you looking for, what do you like?
Guess I'm looking for someone who has more than me, who's done their research or... it's a mixture of both first-hand experiences, often put in uncommon or poetical terms, but I think it needs to be coupled with research in the field. I often choose to do so after watching the movie to get the feeling that "yes!
When I recall that you chirped that you learnt as much from musical critique as you did from other natural history novels, do you still do? I' ve been a little bit jittery because there are many specialists in the area of environmental typing, which I certainly am not.
When I was a child, I was not an enthusiastic young bird or natural scientist, although I was an enthusiastic scholar, but the textbooks I was reading as a child were, you know, about dormitories and babysitting and so far away from Orkney. Then when I was a teenage boy and a college graduate, I liked towns and rock'n'roll and fear, and I began to write a little for the musical and stylistic media.
Recently I realized that when I write about the physical realm, I apply some of the things I learned through musical journalists and magazines and fanzine writings, which often have a certain serenity and humour or a feeling for the ridiculous detail and enjoy some strange, fringe-like character - and then to looking at insular or avifauna.
Talking of marginal figures, maybe this will lead us to your first selection of books: As for Maxwell himself, he was quite a complex person, but his novel was just so compelling and beautiful. It is a ritual textbook that I knew but never even looked at until my mother recently suggested it to me.
I actually did see some kind of spin-off script about it, Iceland of Dreams, by Dan Boothby, a man who recently resided on the Isle under the Skye River that Maxwell had possessed. Especially the first half of the volume is simply marvelous. I' ve got this appreciation of things I saw myself in Orkney.
It' has a marvellous feeling of liberty, maybe because it does something what folks are dreaming of. Yes, he has retired to this remote place, where - although he gets a great deal of help from humans - he is somehow alone in nature, which is very attractive. Since I believe I found myself writing about Papay when I was writing about my life, it seems to be related to it, and it has a relation to another work I was thinking about, Walden, the archetypus of this lonely man in a small place in the country.
However, like Henry David Thoreau is Maxwell.... Well, the work can be seen as a mental portrayal of a somewhat injured one. This makes this way of life - and as it happens in the second half of the volume, the relation he has to his domestic animal Otter - appealing to him. It' s very contemporary, it wouldn't be released or penned today, I don't think anyone takes savage Middle Eastern beasts and tries to control them with all the mess they cause and mess with native boys to help them.
There is something very Idealist about this universe that he is creating. You' re as happy as he was when you saw it. Maxwell created a country paradise so different from the rest of the universe in her second volume, JG Ballard's The Drowned Wonder. Now, I think it is a good example of the use of the physical universe in destiny, and dystopic destiny, and I like the way it is the physical universe, animal, and they are menacing and perilous and strange, rather than a fountain of comfort or flight.
Ahead of its day, it could almost be regarded as a novel about climatic change: "Development" is the name. In The Drowned Worlds, he has now submerged what London was, and all these properties are now sanded down where only the top floor is up. This protagonist is almost pervertedly drawn to this new, destroyed underworld.
Kerans, the protagonist, the biologist ý when the other folks move on to the Polish, where it's colder, he goes further into the equator....into the middle of the darkness...Many of Ballard's literature is about obscure psychology. However, I can feel drawn to some of the more violent aspects of the natural world.
I' ve decided to stay on a small Orkney in winter, rather than in summer when most folks would not. Was it a period of your lifetime when you needed it when it fit you? You know, the insular girl and the townie. At Orkney, you worked for the Orkney Police Service in search of corncrake.
In her third volume, Findings, Kathleen Jamie has an article on Corncrake Queens. However, I went back and recently read this work and realized how powerful it was for me - only by showing what can be done with the natural work. In Orkney she described the meteorological conditions as "frequent shreds of rainbow", which is exactly right.
So, yeah, it wasn't like I was reading Jamie's things and thought I was doing something like that, but I came across her while typing The Outrun at the beginning. When I first came across your handwriting, it was an essays for Aeon, "The Corncrake Wife". Maybe it is the quantum item, the thought that these Corncrake are so intricate that it makes them so irresistible to literally do it.
It became almost a kind of ghost, or icon, or a kind that allows me to see the isle as well as to find the avian. This was the beginning of my deep interest in the physical realm and by having written and also read books from someone like Jamie, that it was something I could do about.
I have given this work to a number of individuals and recommend it to others. She is a writer, but she is also a reality - she speaks about particulars of contemporary Scotland living, the lives she encounters and a little about her own everyday life: she has to be back to fetch the children from college, such things.
She' s a great and deserving Saltire Buch Prize laureate last year. It is a courageous and sweeping novel that acquainted me with some new concepts and challenged my view of the landscape. By and large, the volume is about this concept of "reconstruction", which was a new one.
The whole thing about the comeback of the big carnivores and the effect the losses of the top carnivores had on the countryside was really obvious, and also - especially as a shepherd' s daughters - it was quite hard to get some of his view. But after I finished Monbiot, I even go to Orkney to see the "green deserts" he described, the grasslands mono-cultures for cattle.
It uses a very emotional speech, sentences like "sheep-shattered" - do you think this is necessary to shocked humans, almost to put them back into the landscape as you described it? Perhaps some folks think it's too powerful, or it won't allow room to see how smallholders who are small entrepreneurs do what they need to do to live, and how it has been in their homes for generation after generation.
But, no, I don't think it's too tragic, the physical realm is in recession. Let us now turn to your last volume, the illustration of the birds of Orney. They say you've learned a lot from this one. This is not something I would suggest to everyone, just to those who are in or visit orrkney.
It is a travel companion, and in recent years, as a beginner birder in Orkney, it is the natural history textbook to which I am returning most. In contrast to the Collins birdwatchers, it contains only the Orkney varieties, which is different from what you find in other places, and contains nice detail like the Arcadian nouns for all the different birds: partridges are'tammie norries' and lapwing are'teeicks'.
There are often special, almost poetical facts, such as that there was a star place on the Kirkwall rescue boat, or that most Orkney ranches have a tendency to have a couple of stilts. I now know the best are the sea and farm land species that you can get in Orkney.
I particularly like that they are shown in their own Orkney sites where they are found, you can see identified structures and outlines. are on Egilsay Isle, which has been encouraging them. Oh, I loved that work. After moving to Yorkshire, do you have the feeling that you had to study a whole new breed of bird and game?
Last night I went for a stroll and saw some gray stilts, a little bit of birds we can't get in Orkney. There' s so many ways to get down here you can't get to Orkney. They scream at nights, which seems very strange to me, because the only eagle-ows we have in Orkney are the short-eared eagle-ows, which are quiet.
Orkney feels like my core country, my little spot, and I can imagine going back there at some point. They are really....especially the curlew and oystercatcher and the boobies and the tystias (black guillemots) are the ones who talk the most to my hearts, with whom I have grown up and whom I have got to know in depth over the years that I have been there.
Though I said that as a child I was not a bird watcher, I was raised on a farmyard so that I knew the bird and knew that its name and cry were already inside me. It was there the whole goddamn day, I just didn't admit it for a long while.
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