Wednesday, 9 May 2012

New wave of nature writing

If you go into any bookshop in the country at the moment, and head for the 'Natural History' section, you will notice a sea-change amongst the books upon the shelves. There is an increasing percentage of these books being taken up by the 'new wave/dawn' of nature writing. The good old fashioned field guides are being elbowed out by the demand for personal observations on nature that are drenched in literary worthiness. Most of this is a good thing. I have recently read 'Fire Season' by Philip Connors and am currently reading 'Edgelands' by Paul Farley and Michael Symmons Roberts. They are both part autobiographical, part observational and part educational, but they are not books to help you identify anything in the field, although you could claim that it helps you identify with fellow human beings who see deeper into nature than most people do.

There is also, piggybacking along with this new movement, a sudden mania for reprinting older works of a similar vein. Little Toller Books are reprinting such volumes from the late 19th and early 20th centuries. One of them includes a firm favourite of mine - 'Island Years' by Frank Fraser Darling. Read it and at once be compelled to give up modern living and go and find an offshore rock to warden!

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