Kathleen Jamie - Sightlines
Uneven collection of nature essays heightened by the author's passion and outrage
(Sort Of Books)
Kathleen Jamie’s collection of essays has the potential to be a remarkable study of nature and human existence within it. Unfortunately, it isn’t until two thirds of the way into Sightlines that Jamie begins to emerge as an engaging storyteller. Writing on cave paintings, the whaling industry, the plight of migratory birds and of animals hunted to near-extinction, her passion and outrage are compelling.
Without hyperbole – frankly, there’s no need for any – she recounts the tragedy and violence of hunting and writes tenderly on killer whales circling Rona, the nesting and breeding habits of Leach’s petrels, and a haunting display of whale skeletons.
Her style is languorous and, at times, reminiscent of Annie Proulx’s Bird Cloud, but Jamie lacks the American writer’s discipline, crowding descriptions with figures of speech and detailing her own feelings when a simple telling of the story would be more absorbing. The collection is uneven, often cluttered by her poeticising, but Jamie’s love of nature, so crucial to her observations, is evident in every piece.