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Andrew Greig
At the Loch of the Green Corrie
Quercus £16.99
Review by Emily Smith

 

Known to be a gifted poet, Andrew Greig’s ‘At the Loch of the Green Corrie’ clearly demonstrates his abilities as a prose writer. However, the writing has a strong poetic quality, lovingly crafted and punctuated by unusual and stirring images and descriptions.

The book itself examines Greig’s friendship with the poet Norman MacCaig, providing the premise for the book – a fishing trip to the Loch of the Green Corrie, as MacCaig asks Greig to fish there for him after his death. The trip, then, serves as a period of self-reflection, examining Greig’s relationship with his family, his friends, and with himself.

With much of the book centring on fishing, and the geography and exploration of rural Scotland – two subject of which I have little (or no) previous knowledge, reading ‘At the Loch of the Green Corrie’ was like stepping into a completely different world. However, looking past the fishing and the Scottish landscape, the book is an extremely personal piece of writing, allowing the reader to follow Greig’s self-discovery – or, perhaps, his self-re-discovery - the process by which he loses himself, only to then be able to find himself again. Greig combines poetry with personal reflections, the past with the present, all woven into the remote Scottish landscape. The Scottish life and culture lies at the heart of this book, and gives a voice to this particular, unique culture, of which I am not a part. But the elegant narrative wraps me up and carries me along, letting me see a small part of Scotland, a small part of someone else’s world.

Greig’s strong, elegant, poetic prose is filled with stirring images and descriptions, lovingly crafted into an extremely personal piece of work. It is described as being his most personal piece of work yet – I can’t vouch for that, having no previous knowledge of Greig’s writing. However, I can say that it is a very intimate piece of writing. The dual dedications – To Norman and his pals. For Lesley and mine – encapsulate the split intentions in the book. The desire to pay homage to deceased poet Norman MacCaig, and the desire to relate a personal journey of self-re-discovery and contemplation.

Andrew Greig’s ‘At the Loch of the Green Corrie’ is more than just a holiday narrative. Although I was initially put off by my preconceived ideas about the subject matter (Ugh. Fishing? Really?), this book is one of the most beautiful pieces of writing that I have read in a long time. Greig writes in an elegant, almost poetic style, that brings his words to life. I am glad that I stuck with this book; it is not one that I would have otherwise chosen to read, but now that I have done so, I can see the beauty of the work as a whole, and the beauty of a Scottish landscape that, although I’ve never seen it in reality, is described in such detail that I could visualise it through Greig’s words. ‘At the Loch of the Green Corrie’ is a wonderful piece of work, by an extremely talented Scottish writer.

 

 

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