books > sightlines
256pp Original paperback
all books by this author
by Kathleen Jamie
The outer world flew open like a door, and I wondered, what is it that we’re just not seeing?
Five years after Findings broke the mould of nature writing, Kathleen Jamie subtly shifts our focus on landscape and the living world, daring us to look again at the ‘natural’, the remote and the human-made. She offers us the closest of perspectives and the most distant, too: from vistas of cells beneath a hospital microscope, or the pores of a whale’s jawbone under restoration, to satellites rising over a Scottish island, or the aurora borealis lighting up an iceberg-strewn sea. We encounter killer whales circling below cliffs, noisy colonies of breeding gannets, and paintings deep in caves.
Written with precision, delicacy and personal recollection, Sightlines invites us to pause and look afresh at our surroundings.
“A haunting new collection from one of our finest nature writers … There are piquant descriptions that stop you in your tracks — seals singing “loopy psalms of deliverance”; icebergs looking “as lifeless as cathedral spires” and smelling “of nothing but colossal, witless indifference” — but the real power of the writing derives from the steady increment of detail and the honesty of her responses to the natural world…. Throughout, she displays an enviable capacity to simply sit still, and — through the sheer force of her descriptions — render “nothingness” into something quite spellbinding. Her style is part travelogue, part memoir, part prose-poem and also part reportage: she befriends the right sort of interesting people, from the man in a lane near her Fife home, to skippers on the small boats that help her reach remote outposts.” Helen Davies, Sunday Times
The Sunday Telegraph: Philip Hoare
“Kathleen Jamie, the Scottish poet, has written a book that transcends the defitnition of nature study … Sightlines is a work of intense purity and quiet genius and we’re lucky to have it.”
The Saturday Telegraph: Adam Nicholson
“Written in a way that nature-and-travel books are rarely written; coming to moments of poetic precision and acuity, but always set in a frame of ordinariness; repeatedly able, as she says of herself, to relish “the sense of carefully revealing something authentic . . . The whole book is an experiment in honesty.”
The Scotsman: Stuart Kelly
“Exquisite . . . There is such a precision, of both thinking and seeing, displayed in these works that you would have to be a very obtuse kind of reader not to realise that Jamie is a poet.”