Bulletins from the Wayside 1950-1997
ISBN 0 9530330 1 5
Illustrations Sean Borodale
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At the beginning of the 21st century there's a dream on the wayside; in the rubbish, the insects, the discarded lives. The pieces don't make sense until you put them together, they make a holine. 101 true stories from life, from nature, the British landscape, from 25 years of intimate journals. 'An eclectic and endearingly eccentric anthology.' —Friends of the Earth, Earth Matters.
'Holine is distilled magic....He writes with a simple beauty which is unsurpassed. The wonder, the pain and the joy of both the ordinary and the extraordinary shine out through these little stories and descriptions...He has the gift of seeing the remarkable in ordinary people. But it's the descriptions of nature - of being in nature or being part of nature, which are the best part of the book. Raindrops on a window, weeds in a urban backyard, a bumblebee on a flower, the ancient woods of North Somerset, all come alive as never before. I can honestly say I haven't read a better nature writer. ' —Patrick Whitefield, Permaculture Magazine.
'Holine is, on the face of it nothing more than a ramble of extracts from 25 years' store of journals - not chronological but set according to season and to the author's own mood measure, telling in their juxtapositions and cross-talk; and this plotlessness, seeming a deliberate step out of predictable time, made to serve an eddying and more edifying sequence. Even so, is this really enough to write home about?
'Firstly there is the magical writing. All good writing shares with practised meditation that at-onement of mindfulness and awareness, or a degree of being present with a particular insight. But a rare gift with words and a seer's gift is required for this precise, binding magic. The perceptive reader is charmed by the accuracy, sense-focus and cadence of language into such a quickened here and now that he or she is able to breathe all the quivering asides that make our reveries perhaps the fullest register of our lives.
'The magic here carries a charge that has a similar effect on me as early Castenada - that sudden way the skin creeps or the neck-hair lifts, as if the presence of a power-ally or the nearness of death has been drafted into the room. At the same time the writing relates so directly, and is so much the gift of its landscape, that it seems to me of the essence of an English vein of literature. As such it is part of an ingrained tradition, a current in the mainstream or four culture, our identity even, and a source of essential renewal.' —John Moat, co-founder of the Arvon Foundation, writing in Resurgence Magazine.