Aftermath is a hefty anthology from a venerable country writer. It comprises mainly book reviews and selections from Blythe’s earlier works. I’m a big fan of such collections of ‘occasional writing’. This collection is excellent.
I particularly enjoyed the lengthy section at the start of this book dedicated to the joys of reading other people's published letters, diaries, and journals.
Blythe has a wonderful knack for perceptive, often humorous, observations:
- It is clear that letter-writing proper creates style and destroys inhibition;
- There is an acute species of melancholy attached to the early days of authorship which is often lightly dismissed by biographers as teething pains;
- The wholesale destruction [of the mining industry] by Mrs Thatcher and her successors, albeit for the sake of the economy, that sacred excuse, leaves an unpleasant taste;
- from nine onwards Henry Beaufort could not allow a fox to live.
…That sort of thing.
“…wonderfully droll, witty and entertaining… At their best Carter’s moorland walks and his meandering intellectual talk are part of a single, deeply coherent enterprise: a restless inquiry into the meaning of place and the nature of self.”
—Mark Cocker, author and naturalist
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