I’ve long been aware of Granta and have filed it mentally as A Good Thing without ever feeling the need to actually buy or read a copy. But when I read a recommendation of Granta 102 ‘The New Nature Writing’ over on Walking and Writing I was intrigued. I managed to swap a copy through Readitswapit. I also discovered that Granta 90 ‘Country Life’ was on a similar theme and acquired a copy of that the same way.
I’ve now read almost all of both issues and can strongly recommend either to anyone interested in good writing about the outdoors. I’m not sure that the nature writing featured is entirely ‘new’, Jonathon Raban, Richard Mabey, Mark Cocker, Roger Deakin, Kathleen Jamie and Robert Macfarlane are all pretty well established writers. But that’s a quibble.
I enjoyed Mark Cocker’s description of the artist Kurt Jackson at work painting on the Cornish Coast. (Mordros is apparently the Cornish word for the sound of the sea.) You can read part of the article and see some paintings here.
I’ve pasted in this thumbnail of The squirrels watch me. Hollands Wood oak. February sunlight and rain in the hope that it will wet your appetite. You can see a larger version and many more paintings at Kurt Jackson’s own website. Well worth a look in my opinion.
I also enjoyed, in Granta 90, Blight – photographs by Robert Gumpert of fallen leaves. Could he be a fellow obsessive? Unlike my photos his are taken back in his studio with the leaf sandwiched between two plates of glass and backlit.
See more examples here.
I’m already a fan of Mabey, Deakin and Macfarlane (my latest Readitswapit acquisition is Mountains of the Mind). Jonathon Raban’s essay Second Nature and Barry Lopez on Salmon also stood out as highlights. Kathleen Jamie had essays in both editions and having read them I’m now even more determined to pick up a cheap copy of her book Findings. (It’s part of a very long wish list.)