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The Outrun by Amy Liptrot

The Outrun (original 2016; edition 2016)

by Amy Liptrot (Author)

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163373,133 (4.19)46
Title:The Outrun
Authors:Amy Liptrot (Author)
Info:Canongate Books (2016), Edition: Main, 304 pages
Collections:Your library
Tags:Non-Fiction, Memoir, Addiction, Nature, Orkney, 2010's, 2017

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The Outrun by Amy Liptrot (2016)

  1. 00
    The Aran Islands by J. M. Synge (harmen)
    harmen: Different islands, but gives a nice idea about life on remote islands, back then.

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This is a moving and brilliantly written memoir that is honest and heartbreaking. Amy Liptrot is an alcoholic that has reached the bottom of the heap before she finds treatment and support and starts the process of not drinking. Eventually she returns to her Orkney home and the place and the wildlife give her a chance to explore her feelings, her relationship with alcohol and addiction and write a new future for herself. Many of the chapters read as self-contained short stories as she explores different aspects of Orkney and her life. She is painfully honest about her addiction and the pain that she goes through is heartbreaking. She is also honest about life on a remote Scottish island and doesn't dress it up as romantic but does find something in the wildness that helps her. She becomes an alcoholic in London and it could be read as a book about the bad big city and the good rural haven but I think she avoids this obvious narrative and looks inside herself for reasons for her addiction to alcohol. ( )
  Tifi | Aug 10, 2017 |
Thoreau’s classical rationale for his retreat to Walden Pond following a time in jail for an act of social disobedience (i.e., non-payment of taxes) reminds one of Amy Liptrot’s return to Orkney from London during her recovery from alcoholism. “I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived.” Indeed, the appeal of Liptrot’s narrative is not only her struggle with alcoholism but also her meditation on the power of Nature and a simple life to heal the injured mind and body.

Liptrot takes the “outrun” as the central metaphor for her own retreat to the edge. The outrun was a useless piece of her parents’ farm “where domestic and wild animals coexist and humans don’t often visit so spirit people are free to roam…nothing but cliffs and ocean between it and Canada.” This image powerfully evokes her situation of having outrun her equanimity by excesses of drink, partying, violence and abusive sex.

Liptrot seems to have come by her pathology honestly. Her mother was a born-again Christian zealot and her father, a man suffering from a particularly intense case of bipolar schizophrenia. As a young woman, she sought escape from family and the isolation of Orkney by moving to London where she immersed herself in the bar scene. Following a decade away and a beginning toward sobriety, Liptrot decided to return to Orkney with the idea that the move might be useful in her recovery. “My life was rough and windy and tangled. Growing up in the wind leaves you strong, sloped and adept at seeking shelter.”

This is not your typical addiction recovery memoir, however. Instead, it ranges over a wide terrain of themes, including urban vs. rural settings (island vs. city), the power of Nature to provide solace, and the extreme relapse challenges common to all recovering addicts. In her telling, Liptrot skillfully balances two competing voices: a jaded observer of the underbelly of London nightlife and a knowledgeable resident of the Orkney Islands. She is unblinking in her telling of the degradations and chaos of her life in Hackney while also lovingly portraying the unique history, geology, agriculture and fauna of Orkney. Both settings represent edges much like the outrun: the former is societal while the latter is more geographic.

This is a powerful examination of how things can fall apart in the modern world and how a return to living deliberately and simply, as Thoreau advocated, can be a valuable adjunct to recovery. ( )
  ozzer | Aug 2, 2017 |
Een mooi boek om 2017 mee te beginnen. Amy Liptrot, freelance schrijfster/journalist, vertelt over haar jeugd op Orkney (met manisch depressieve vader en godsdienstige moeder), haar losgeslagen jaren in London, waarin drank een steeds grotere rol ging spelen, en haar terugkeer naar het noorden, waar zij de betekenis van het leven zonder alcohol en de daarbij behorende roes, probeert te vinden. Naast het persoonlijke verhaal bevat dit boek ook beschrijvingen van het leven op de eilanden van Orkney, de vele schapen, de stormen, de sterren die je er 's nachts ziet, de wezens uit de zee en de geologie. Dat maakt het af en toe een wat vreemde mix van natuurboek en persoonlijke memoire, met de nodige stijlbreuken die daarbij horen, maar toch werkte het boek voor mij. Gevolg is natuurlijk dat ik nu ook naar Orkney wil, liefst onmiddelijk :-). ( )
1 vote Tinwara | Jan 8, 2017 |
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