The Outrun by Amy Liptrot | 280 pages | Canon Gate | Paperback | 2016 | ISBN: 978-1-78211-548-9|
Winner of the WAINWRIGHT PRIZE 2016 and shortlisted for the WELLCOME PRIZE 2016 The outrun is a nature book like no other!
Calling it a sad, lonely, tale of one woman’s life through mental health and addiction and finally recovery (helped in no small part by a return to the island she grew up on, where her days become those many of us would dream of living surveying wildlife on Orkney) would probably be a disservice to such an enthralling piece of work, and possibly an insult to the author as it is so much more.
I knew nothing of the book or author before I picked up a copy in a large bookshop just the other day (buying books for a family friends birthday) but something drew me to it, it’s not often fate leads you to a book that you just “get” but I think for once something just clicked.
The Outrun by Amy Liptrot – Review
When I started reading The Outrun, I must admit to a little confusion, the narrative seemed to jump through the ages at will, from the present to childhood, youthful desires to adult realisations each sentence seemed to be from a different time. Disquietingly I found after a few pages this disjointed ream of memory just works. I was absorbed and quickly taken into the life of Amy Liptrot, the memories of her past mingling with the current. I wanted to delve through the thoughts and see where this was all going to end.Chronicling her life from teen on Orkney to her joining the Party lifestyle, and ultimately succumbing to its seedier side, the Outrun covers Amy Liptrots’ Love life and lust, violence, alcoholism and depressions onto her salvation.
My own mental health and addictions and how nature aids them were brought up as I read the book, I never went to the levels of addiction as I could have but knowing the connections now I can see how close I have been. But it made me feel a connection to the outrun, and made me want to experience the isolation and peace that Orkney has to offer (it is not an area I have been fortunate enough to visit).
Some of my favourite parts are the brief forays into Orkney folklore, or the explanation of upside down islands, these tantalising moments had me constantly querying google to delve deeper. A distraction from the book? Maybe but I kept going back to the Outrun after more of them.
A disjointed meander through childhood memories, adolescence, young adulthood, mental health and nature, what’s not to like? Throw in the quirky lifestyle of Orkney and some brilliant writing and I can see why this book has won awards.
Well worth a read.
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