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Granta: The Magazine of New Writing #102: Granta 102: The New Nature Writing


Granta: The Magazine of New Writing #102: Granta 102: The New Nature Writing Cover

ISBN13: 9781929001323
ISBN10: 1929001320
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Publisher Comments:

For as long as people have been writing, they have been writing about nature. But nature—as we know it—is changing. Economic migration, overpopulation, and climate change are transforming the natural world into something unfamiliar. As our conception and experience of nature changes, so too does the way we write about it. In this special issue Jonathan Raban goes on the road in the American West; Kathleen Jamie dissects a human colon; Matthew Power squats in the Bronx; Paul Farley and Niall Griffiths write about escaping the inner city; Edward Platt goes inside Israels “bird plague zones”; Robert Macfarlane and Justin Partyka ghosthunt in the fens; Richard Mabey searches for the Fortingall Yew; Benjamin Kunkel drops out in Colorado; Philip Marsden ponders the mystery of Cornwalls ancient stones; and Donovan Wylie photographs the demolition of the Maze prison. Also Seamus Heaney, Mark Cocker, Anthony Doerr, Jim Holt, David Heatley, Roger Deakins notebooks, poetry by Sean OBrien, and a new short story by Lydia Peelle.

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CultureWars, September 2, 2008 (view all comments by CultureWars)
Cowley, to his credit, includes a crucial caveat in his specification: that the ‘writer (should) be present in the story’. Writers are thoroughly egocentric human beings after all, and unlike Astley’s apparent disgust at the ways humans dare use nature to talk all about themselves there is at least a tacit acceptance that we can, and should, have an active presence in the world we inhabit.

This is most evident in Kathleen Jamie’s Pathologies: A startling tour of our bodies (colourful interpretations of the nature of ‘Nature’ are one of the greatest pleasures on display). Inspired by the recent death of her mother, she visits a pathologist and gets taken on a detailed study of human anatomy, looking at its frailty and decay, finally getting to watch the whole deal in a ‘live’ autopsy.

Cowley says that through the local we can find ‘exoticism in the familiar, the extraordinary in the ordinary’. Power’s tale of moving to a condemned building in the Bronx and setting up a hippy nature refuge contains about as many clichés as you could hope: their delicate utopian dreams in constant battle with the property developer fascists (headed by Giuliani), bohemian living (junkies! Mexicans! A community theatre in the basement!), taking peyote from a Navajo medicine man, and the aren’t they so down to earth and yet have such a finely honed sense of humour comments of various passing eccentric Noo Yoikers. Exotic? It makes going to Thailand and getting really into Buddhism seem like Salammbô by comparison.

Perhaps the simile of the ‘Classic Combo’ is apt here: Granta 101 was the reliable favourite, filled with lots of tasty treats and still on the whole good for you. Granta 102 is the fad diet, grounded in Real Science and somehow different to all those other ones, which advertises itself on the subtext that by following it you will be better (morally and physically) than those boring, die-hard traditionalists.

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Product Details

Cowley, Jason
Granta Books (UK)
Raban, Jonathan
Jamie, Kathleen
Anthologies (multiple authors)
Edition Description:
Trade Paper
Granta: The Magazine of New Writing
Series Volume:
Publication Date:
8.5 x 5.75 in 15.5 lb

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Related Subjects

Fiction and Poetry » Anthologies » General
Fiction and Poetry » Small Press » Literary and Poetry Journals

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