20 February 2019

Edgelands

When I picked up "Edgelands" in the Oxfam shop where I work every Wednesday, I was drawn by the sub-heading on the front cover - "Journeys into England's true wilderness".

I imagined it was going to be a book about mountain tops, heathland, forests and lonely beaches but I misled myself. It is actually a book about places that exist between cities and the true countryside. These are oft neglected and overlooked regions that writers usually ignore.

"Edgelands" has not one but two authors - Paul Farley and Michael Symmons Roberts - both from the north west of England and both usually  more interested in poetry than examining the edges of cities. The chapter headings give a good sense of what their book is about - Cars, Paths, Dens, Containers, Landfill, Water, Sewage, Wire, Gardens, Lofts, Canals, Bridges, Masts, Wasteland, Ruins, Woodlands, Venues, Mines, Power, Pallets, Hotels, Retail, Business, Ranges, Lights, Airports, Weather, Piers.

Here's a taste of their writing from the very middle of the book when they are focusing upon those ubiquitous telecommunication masts that seem to surround us these days:
Head for the scrubland outside Big Storage or the B&Q Warehouse where the pallets rise like a fortress over the razor-wire fence. Stand like a latter-day St Sebastian, and open yourself to the multiple text messages, wireless e-mails and mobile phone calls cutting through you. Sift through the trivia, the cold calls and spam, until you reach the desperate evocations of love, loss, fear. Listen to them whisper as they pass through you. Take on the cares of the world. (page 133)

The authors explore and reflect upon some of the uglier and least celebrated features of the modern world. Their view is both observant and opinionated and I found "Edgelands" to be quite revelatory. It categorises and examines and it opens one's eyes to elements and arrangements we are habitually blind to. Next time I find myself in any "edgelands" I expect I will look at them a little differently..

14 comments:

  1. I often wonder about the signals etc that pass through us all, maybe that's my excuse for being a bit ditzy, lol
    Briony
    x

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ditzy or dizzy? To tell you the truth I prefer the word "ditzy" - it seems to combine "dizzy" and "glitzy".

      Delete
  2. That really is a unique perspective and I'm not sure I've ever heard of a book that explored areas like that. Good find, Mr. P!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It was a nice surprise. Not what I was expecting.

      Delete
  3. Sounds like these guys have done their research.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes Red. They did a lot of looking, searching, reading and talking.

      Delete
  4. That is an interesting concept for a book. I think it would change the way I look at the outskirts of cities as well.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. They look at the places that most of us ignore.

      Delete
  5. I'm constantly on edge of late...I dare not stand on the edge of land...not with a long drop-off, anyway! :)

    ReplyDelete
  6. I didn't get a chance to comment on your last post, but I wanted to say Congratulations to Ian through you! I'm planning to buy both of his books for our niece, a committed vegetarian and, from what I hear, an outstanding cook!

    ReplyDelete
  7. It sounds like my kind of book.

    ReplyDelete
  8. Interesting! That sounds like a very unusual book. I'll have to see if I can pick one up. I definitely walk through PLENTY of "edgelands" in my explorations around London!

    ReplyDelete
  9. I've never thought about multiple emails and text messages cutting through me . . . it's an interesting way of looking at it.

    ReplyDelete

Mr Pudding welcomes all genuine comments - even those with which he disagrees. However, puerile or abusive comments from anonymous contributors will continue to be given the short shrift they deserve. Any spam comments that get through Google/Blogger defences will also be quickly deleted.

Most Visits