Friday, 19 June 2015

New nature writing

I'm a sucker for books, particularly of natural history books, and especially those that could be termed as having a literary bent. In recent years the market has been flooded with them, coining the phrase 'new nature writing'. One of the architects of such works, Mark Cocker, has written an interesting piece about this subject for the New Statesmen. You can find it easily by clicking here.

My bedside table currently has three natural history books awaiting my attention: The Natural History of Selborne (Gilbert White), Island Going (Robert Atkinson - thanks Pete!) and Common Ground (Rob Cowen). Two of these are works from many years ago. Whether or not I am largely an avid reader of such publications because they invoke a sense of nostalgia is a moot point - but the prerequisite of any book worthy of my (or your) attention should be that they are well written. I think it is fair to say that the level of penmanship in this particular field of subject is very high indeed.

It is said that we all possess within us a book. In idle moments I fantasise about writing one, with nature being a central theme. But when you cast your eyes across what has already appeared, it will take a great leap of faith to actually do so.

7 comments:

  1. I've one under the belt, but writing a field guide's a very different story to writing beautiful literary prose. The former's relatively easy, from the head; the latter's much harder, and comes from the heart. Or at least, it should. One can always tell when it doesn't. I think Kathleen Jamie's criticism of the Lone Enraptured Male is bang on the money.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. And that very guide lives on my bookshelf Jon...

      Delete
    2. Aw. Glad to hear you have it, Steve. Deliberately printed on shiny high quality non-absorbent paper to try to prolong its working life and not consign it to the downstairs toilet... ;-)

      Beautiful literary prose hopefully to follow in the next twelve months or so. All being well...

      Delete
  2. Of the many books that I own, three favourites are "The Eye of the Wind" by Peter Scott - "Peter Scott" by Elspeth Huxley and "Wildings - the Secret Garden of Eileen Soper" by Duff Hart-Davis.
    While I did write published articles about aviation history many years ago, blogging is probably the best that us frustrated writers will achieve.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I must get around to posting about some of my favourite natural history books Derek - something that I do from time to time. We ought to get commission!

      Delete
  3. Replies
    1. Blocks of ice Dave, blocks of ice...

      Delete