Sunday, March 25, 2012

Findings - Kathleen Jamie

It's spring and my reading at least (as you may have noticed) has led me off into wilder countryside than my work bound self can currently manage. One book has lead to another in a way that leaves me wondering how I'd managed to miss coming across them for so long, an effect that's heightened by reading non fiction from a group of writers who if not closely linked were certainly aware of each other and reference accordingly. If nothing else it's given my amazon recommends list a good shake up - which is where I fist noticed Kathleen Jamie's new book 'Sightlines'. It has a particularly beautiful cover - deep blue sky and gannets and I will admit to being hooked in by it. It's not out for another week or two but that's given me time to catch up with 'Findings' (almost as pretty and also from Sort Of books).

Until now Jamie's work had passed me by - and this despite any number of enthusiastic reviews, awards, and general approval - which is disappointing but hardly surprising given that I read in a sort of bubble the limits of which are what catch my eye in my local bookshops (a reasonable but not extensive or overly imaginative range), that which other bloggers recommend (but then I tend to follow people who like the same sort of books I do so it's still a limited scope), and whatever amazon throws at me courtesy of its frequently baffling programme (often surprising and offbeat, not so often hitting the spot). Where do you go to meet new books?

'Findings' itself turned out a perfect delight. It's a series of shortish essays about things Jamie has given her attention to. There are a lot of birds and quite a few beaches, meditations on darkness and light, thoughts about language and experience - especially mortality, and quite a bit about the power of place. I like short essays, like short stories they make for perfect break time reading. 'Findings' had an extraordinary ability to pull me in and shut out the rest of the world which is exactly what I want, and need, over lunch at work, or on the bus, or even in bed before sleep, and because each essay is perfect and complete in itself it's easy to put it down when the allotted time is up.

It's also a book about seeing things, a dead whale, a skull, a spiders web, a bird, a weather vane, all become remarkable under Jamie's gaze but after due consideration though the thing that really set 'Findings' apart from the common run of things for me is that she keeps asking questions; both of herself and her reader, sometimes, but not always, there are answers. There is always something to think about though and I love that. 

March in the Midlands is when spring really kicks in, everything growing is noticeably greener, leafier, taller on a daily basis, and even without the clocks changing today it's felt so much lighter every evening. I find it an unsettling time of year, morning sunlight isn't kind to my flat - it shows up the wear and tear which makes me restless, I feel like I'm missing to much. Reading how Jamie sees the world around her is quietly inspiring in ways I can't explain without falling into cliché, I'm really looking forward to 'Sightlines'. 


  1. Sounds intriguing. I'll have to look out for it!

  2. Really worth looking at when you find a copy - it's a very visual sort of book so if that's how your imagination works you won't be disappointed. (I don't think.)

  3. I have this on the desk beside me & hope to get to it soon - probably over Easter when I have some time off. It sounds lovely.

  4. It was utterly absorbing Lyn, I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.