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Audible SurfacingAuthor Kathleen Jamie –

Kathleen Jamie S Essays Guide You Softly Along Coastlines Of Varying Continents, Exploring Caves, And Pondering Ice Ages Until The Narrator Stumbles Over Not A Rock On The Trail, But Mortality, Maybe The Earth S, Maybe Our Own, Pointing To New Paths Forward Through The Forest Delia Owens, Author Of Where The Crawdads Sing, By The Book In The New York Times Book ReviewAn Immersive Exploration Of Time And Place In A Shrinking World, From The Award Winning Author Of SightlinesIn This Remarkable Blend Of Memoir, Cultural History, And Travelogue, Poet And Author Kathleen Jamie Touches Points On A Timeline Spanning Millennia, And Considers What Surfaces And What Reconnects Us To Our Past From The Thawing Tundra Linking A Yup Ik Village In Alaska To Its Hunter Gatherer Past To The Shifting Sand Dunes Revealing The Impressiely Preserved Homes Of Neolithic Farmers In Scotland, Jamie Explores How The Changing Natural World Can Alter Our Sense Of Time Most Movingly, She Considers, As Her Father Dies And Her Children Leave Home, The Surfacing Of An Older, Less Tethered Sense Of Herself In Precise, Luminous Prose, Surfacing Offers A Profound Sense Of Time Passing And An Antidote To All That Is Instant, Ephemeral, Unrooted

10 thoughts on “Surfacing

  1. says:

    I m a big fan of Kathleen Jamie s work, prose and poetry Like her two previous essay collections, Sightlines and Findings, both of which I read in 2012, this fuses autobiography with nature and travel writing two genres that are too often dominated by males Jamie has a particular interest in birds, islands, archaeology and the oddities of the human body, all subjects that intrigue me, too.The bulk of Surfacing is given over to three long pieces set in Alaska, Orkney and Tibet She was drawn to Quinhagak, Alaska, a village that s about the farthest you can go before crossing the Bering Sea into Russia, by her fascination with the whaling artifacts found along the UK s east coast Here she helped out on a summer archaeological dig and learned about the language and culture of the Yup ik people Alarmingly, the ground here should have been frozen most of the way to the surface, forcing the crew to wear thermals instead, the ice was a half meter down, and Jamie found that she never needed her cold weather gear.On Westray, Orkney hey, I ve been there , there was also evidence of environmental degradation in the form of rapid erosion This Neolithic site, comparable to the better known Skara Brae, leads Jamie to think about deep time and whether we re actually much better off Being on site often left me freighted with thoughts about time, how it seems to expand and contract I kept having to remind myself of the ages that passed during what we call the Neolithic or the Bronze Age How those people s days were as long and vital as ours We all know it We can t go on like this, but we wouldn t go back either, to the stone ploughshare and the early death.Prehistory fits the zeitgeist, as seen in two entries from the recent Wainwright Prize shortlist Time Song by Julia Blackburn and Underland by Robert Macfarlane It s a necessary corrective to the kind of short term thinking that has gotten us into environmental crisis.A cancer biopsy coincides with a dream memory of being bitten by a Tibetan dog, prompting Jamie to get out her notebook from a trip to China Tibet some 30 years ago Xiahe was technically in China but ethnically and culturally Tibetan, and so the best they could manage at that time since Tibet was closed to foreigners There s an amazing amount of detail in this essay given how much time has passed, but her photos as well as her notebook must have helped with the reconstruction.The depth and engagement of the long essays are admirable, yet I often connected with the very short pieces on experiencing a cave, spotting an eagle or getting lost in a forest Jamie has made the interesting choice of delivering a lot of the memoir fragments in the second person My favorite piece of all is Elders, which in just five pages charts her father s decline and death and marks her own passage into unknown territory grown children and no parents What will her life look like now There is beautiful nature writing to be found in this volume, as you might expect, but also relatable words on the human condition What are you doing here anyway, in the woods You wanted to think about all the horror The everyday news No, not to think about it exactly but consider what to do with the weight of it all, the knowing You are not lost, just melodramatic The path is at your feet, see Now carry on.Originally published on my blog, Bookish Beck Releases on the 19th UK 24th USA.

  2. says:

    Nice WSJ review paywalled Excerpts At an archaeological dig in coastal Alaska, where Ms Jamie is helping to excavate a buried village settled by natives some five centuries earlier, she thinks she smells mince and tatties, a hearty Scottish dish of meat and potatoes Is she having some sort of olfactory hallucination evoked by her childhood The scent, Ms Jamie discovers, is from a part of the freshly unearthed site where seals and walruses were once skinned The air is so clean and sharp, she writes, you can smell seal meat from five hundred years ago Listening to an Alaskan tribal member tell of the uncanny homing instinct of sled dogs, Ms Jamie confesses that I was unsure whether the event he recounted happened to him, or his grandfather, or someone else entirely I don t know whether it matters For a student of nature, she hints, time becomes a casual continuum, much like the fabled temporal stream in which Henry David Thoreau went a fishing.Ms Jamie appears gregarious than Thoreau and most other nature writers While the genre is deeply populated by solitaries, her essays brim with people Surfacing also chronicles her travels in Tibet, but some of the book s most memorable essays grow from her native soil in Scotland, including Elders, an affectionate portrait of her aged father, who passes away in a chair turned toward the window.

  3. says:

    Life feels like one headlong rush at times The phone squeaks constantly with notifications, demanding attention now, the 24 hour news fills our lives with politics and despair and yet time goes no faster than it did 5000 years ago It grinds ceaselessly on, covering memories and objects with its gossamer thin seconds To go back in time, we need to unearth our landscapes and memories Time is a spiral What goes around comes around.The book opens with her in Alaska helping at an archaeological dig in a Yup ik village The site is normally frozen most of the year, but in the summer the cold relents, normally allowing the top four or five inches to be uncovered, however, climate change means that the permafrost is thawing to a depth of half a metre allowing secrets of its hunter gatherer past to be revealed The objects that they are finding are enabling the village to re discover their past They found dance masks that were discarded after missionaries told them it was devil worship and for the first time in a very long time performed a dance that was pieced together from the elder s memories The landscape was astonishing There was nothing I wanted to do than sit quietly and look at it, come to terms with its vastness.Her next excursion to the past is at the Links of Noltland, up in Orkney This Neolithic site has been covered by dunes and what they have found here was last seen by human eyes thousands of years ago The need to excavate and understand just what is there, is urgent as it is subject to erosion from the storms that the Atlantic brings, as well as the other pressure of funding to carry out the work being stopped because of budget pressures These people were only a step away from the wild and had short brutal lives and yet they were skilled enough to have devised a method when they built their homes to keep out the relentless wind They fill your hands, these fragments, these stories, but with a wide gesture, you cast them back across the field again.Jamie writes of time spent in Xiahe in Tibet in her younger days, at the time of the student protests and the clampdown of martial law in the region and the palpable tension in the area They explore as much as they can, but because they are foreigners, they have an undue amount of attention directed towards them, including the inevitable night raid by the police There are other essays in here too, almost short interludes between the longer pieces She stops her car to watch the mastery an eagle has over the air and consider the timelessness of a woodland Some of the essays are personal too, she recalls the moment of her fathers passing and struggles to hear her mother and grandmothers voices in her mind.A new Kathleen Jamie book is a thing of joy, and Surfacing does not disappoint at all Her wonderful writing is layered, building images of the things that she sees, until you the reader, feel immersed in the same place that she inhabited Some of the essays are very moving, Elders in particular, but also The Wind Horse where you sense the tension in the town from what she observes Her skill as a poet means, for me at least, that her writing has a way of helping you seen the world around in a new and different light, revealing as much from the shadows as from the obvious and this book is no different.

  4. says:

    With a need for calm and focus, that only quality nature writing can offer, Jamie shares ecology insight through a poets voice Opening with her daydreaming on train, reflecting on artifacts she s seen in local museums and how they transform you back to her original experiences with them It s an effortless transition to beautiful passages about landscape, discovery, and awakening, with a deep cultural and climate understanding Jamie characterizes herself in Robert Lewis Stevenson words a strong Scott s accent of the mind.Galley borrowed from the publisher.

  5. says:

    An astonishing book, Kathleen Jamie s Surfacing is a collection of essays predominantly about our collective past and the objects which shape bind us to our land and homes Roaming from archeological digs on an Alaskan shore and a Scottish island, to travels through China, a woodland walk and thoughts on a train Overarching all this is a book about looking and seeing examining space, light, nature, pondering history and the remembering of that which has been forgotten.Jamie takes everyday objects, our own and archeological finds, she takes the quiet moments of her days, aging, the loss of parents, children grown, memories of youthful travels, fleeting moments of freedom, life and all its precious, transitory rush Throughout is conveyed a deep rooted sense of connection and the weight and passage of time Aware of our place in the world, Jamie holds both the fragility and resilience of humanity up to view with a clear eyed patience Tactile, visceral, and grounded in place Surfacing is a kind of homecoming, fascinating, powerful and moving.

  6. says:

    I loved Findings and Sightlines but this is even better Surfacing follows the same format of beautifully crafted essays that link in unusual, almost subterranean ways but the frame of the collection is vast, spanning millennia and taking us from the edge of the Bering Sea to the borders of Tibet, to the sand dunes of the Orkneys to a window in Fife And the last essay, The Voice of the Wood is so moving, quietly so This is a book that will linger long in the mind I know now what I m giving everyone for Christmas.

  7. says:

    It s hard to characterize this it s a memoir, it s nature writing, it s a call to make changes in how we treat the world but it s beautifully written It s also educational There are three settings Alaska, Orkney, and Tibet and each proves important to Jamie s life There are also smaller essays which touch on a variety of issues but which tie the major essays together In Alaska, Jamie worked on an archeological dig and learned not only about the Yup ik people, but also the effects of climate change In Orkney, she worked on a neolithic site I was most interested in Xiahe, ethnically Tibetan but technically in China but most affected by Elders Thanks to Edelweiss for the ARC I d not read Jamie before but I ll look for her writing in the future.

  8. says:

    Fantastic collection of essays from poet Kathleen Jamie The title, Surfacing , nicely summarises recurrent ideas in several of the essays, with time taken to observe people and places honing the vision and seeing what was not there before Whether at archaeological digs in Alaska or Orkney, sheltering in a cave in the West Highlands of Scotland, or in a hotel in China her careful observation and openness to listen , and to learn from other people makes these words hit home with some heft Slow down, observe, learn It ll never catch on.

  9. says:

    There are many bright moments in Kathleen Jamie s Surfacing, often coalescing around descriptions of light The essay that cut straight through me, however, illuminated the space that opens up in a woman s life when she contemplates no longer having to be a caregiver I will be returning to Elders for years For those newer to Kathleen Jamie, I recommend starting with the book Findings and then making your way through her other essay works.

  10. says:

    Beautiful, lyrics prose that transports you to the sites that Jamie visits, exquisitely shares with you the profound relationships between people, people and nature with a deep sense of our history on this planet.