The main theme of the book is death – death of a father, of an identity, of a sense of self, of a language. In tandem with that, The Nessman is also about the agent of Colin’s personal destruction – alcohol.
Yet the book is not a depressing read. It is hilariously funny, brilliantly observed and written with an astonishing ear for dialogue and eye for character. Colin’s knowledge of himself as he spirals towards destruction is unsparing and unsentimental. The result is an extraordinary and moving portrayal of a people and a culture.
This is the first book in English of the people of Ness and it is one of the first novels in which a Gaelic writer has, with utter confidence, made English his own language too.
Following the tracks, holloways, drove-roads and sea paths that form part of a vast ancient network of routes criss-crossing the British Isles and beyond, Robert Macfarlane discovers a lost world – a landscape of the feet and the mind, of pilgrimage and ritual, of stories and ghosts; above all of the places and journeys which inspire and inhabit our imaginations.
“The Wild Places” is both an intellectual and a physical journey, and Macfarlane travels in time as well as space. Guided by monks, questers, scientists, philosophers, poets and artists, both living and dead, he explores our changing ideas of the wild. From the cliffs of Cape Wrath, to the holloways of Dorset, the storm-beaches of Norfolk, the saltmarshes and estuaries of Essex, and the moors of Rannoch and the Pennines, his journeys become the conductors of people and cultures, past and present, who have had intense relationships with these places.Certain birds, animals, trees and objects – snow-hares, falcons, beeches, crows, suns, white stones – recur, and as it progresses this densely patterned book begins to bind tighter and tighter. At once a wonder voyage, an adventure story, an exercise in visionary cartography, and a work of natural history, it is written in a style and a form as unusual as the places with which it is concerned. It also tells the story of a friendship, and of a loss. It mixes history, memory and landscape in a strange and beautiful evocation of wildness and its vital importance.
Calum MacLeod had lived on the northern point of Raasay since his birth in 1911. He tended the Rona lighthouse at the very tip of his little archipelago, until semi-automation in 1967 reduced his responsibilities. ‘So what he decided to do,’ says his last neighbour, Donald MacLeod, ‘was to build a road out of Arnish in his months off. With a road he hoped new generations of people would return to Arnish and all the north end of Raasay . . .’ And so, at the age of 56, Calum MacLeod, the last man left in northern Raasay, set about single-handedly constructing the ‘impossible’ road. It would become a romantic, quixotic venture, a kind of sculpture; an obsessive work of art so perfect in every gradient, culvert and supporting wall that its creation occupied almost twenty years of his life. In Calum’s Road, Roger Hutchinson recounts the extraordinary story of this remarkable man’s devotion to his visionary project.
This book covers the Island of Taransay and the villages of Luskentyre, Seilibost, Horgabost and the Borves. Illustrated with photographs of people and places and maps. Read the rest of this entry »
An account of a life at sea and as a family doctor in the Isle of Harris. Proceeds from the book go to Crossroads Care Attendant Scheme in Harris.
Following service as an agricultural officer in Zanzibar, Geoff Wilkinson returns to the island of Pemba for three years as a married man before starting a new life in the Hebrides. This is the fascinating story of his challenging and rewarding ten years on the island of Harris.
The Truth about St Kilda is a unique record of the isolated way of life on St Kilda in the early part of the twentieth century, based on seven handwritten notebooks written by the Rev. Donald Gillies, containing reminiscences of his childhood on the island of Hirta. It provides a first-hand account of the living conditions, social structure and economy of the community in the early 1900s, before the evacuation of the remaining residents in 1930.
Based on a childhood in Harris – wonderful story-telling from the well-known broadcaster, Finlay J MacDonald.
George Murray was the school teacher on St Kilda from 1886 – 87 and throughout that time he kept a diary, which has, since then, been quoted in many publications. However, until now, we have not had any insight into the man himself. Now the St Kilda diary is reproduced in full from the original, just as it was written, and is a fascinating account of life in that unique and isolated archipelago. Here we have the full story of a courageous and honourable man. It includes an account taken from another diary he kept during the summer the year before going out to St Kilda, when he was a missionary and school teacher on North Uist in the Outer Hebrides. ISBN: 978-1-907443-55-8 Paperback.
Sea Room describes – and relives – a love affair with three tiny islands in the Hebrides which the author has owned for the last twenty years. The Shiants (the name means the holy or enchanted islands) are a wild and dramatic place, with 500 foot high cliffs of black columnar basalt, surrounded by tide rips, filled in the summer with hundreds of thousands of seabirds and with a long and haunting history of hermits, shipwreckers, famine and eviction. Adam Nicolson’s father, Nigel, bought them as an Oxford undergraduate in 1937 for £1,400 and gave them to his son on his 21st birthday. They became the most important thing in his life, not only an escape but as the source of a deep engagement with the natural world in some of its most beautiful, alarming and all-encompassing forms.
The Guga Hunters tells the story of the men who voyage to Sulasgeir each year and the district they hail from, bringing out the full colour of their lives, the humour and drama of their exploits. They speak of the laughter that seasons their time together on Sulasgeir, of the risks and dangers they have faced. It also provides a fascinating insight into the social history of Ness, the culture and way-of-life that lies behind the world of the Guga Hunters, the timeless nature of the hunt, and reveals the hunt’s connections to the traditions of other North Atlantic countries. Told in his district’s poetry and prose, English and – occasionally – Gaelic, Donald S. Murray shows how the spirit of a community is preserved in this most unique of exploits.
ISBN: 9781841586847 Imprint: Birlinn
Positioned at the uppermost tip of Britain and facing the battling winds of the Atlantic, the Isle of Lewis has always had a strong identity of its own. A community defined by tradition for hundreds of years, the twentieth century presented huge challenges to its way of life, leaving it completely altered by the arrival of the millennium. Lewis in the Passing is a form of time-capsule, containing twenty-one autobiographical sketches of Lewis natives, all born before the Second World War. From crofter to musician, house-wife to clergyman, the selection spans the spectrum of Lewis society. Theirs are lives which have experienced these great changes, from economic disaster in the 1920s, to mass emigration in the 1930s, the ‘obscenity of battle’ during the Second World War, and afterwards the decline of the Gaelic language and the slow demise of crofting. All are interviewed by fellow islander Calum Ferguson, who presents his subjects’ stories and journeys, and understands how, in spite of the rainy climate and wind-blasted scenery, the island’s hidden magnetism continues to draw them all ‘back home’.
ISBN: 9781841585475 Imprint: Birlinn