Stinkyboy

Member
Anyone read anything of his? The new one, Underland, looks decent:
I am so glad I found this forum. I thought maybe I was losing my mind. I had heard so many great things about Macfarlane - rave reviews, awards..- so ordered a copy of The Wild Places..... my review? Let’s put it this way, Macfarlane sounds like the kind of guy who could clear a room in a minute flat. Boring as hell!!! The writing is turgid, overblown, ostentatious , wordy, contrived, At one point, he meets an interesting Scottish forester named Angus who invites him to go trout fishing the next morning. But does RM talk about the guy? Does he relate any nuggets of wisdom? Does he fk. He talks about how the sunlight dances off the surface of the stream... and even talks about fkn “photons”. He kills everything with his ridiculous descriptions and fatuous analogies
He’s boring. He looks boring. And he wears padded body warmer vests indoors.
 

suspended

Well-known member
It's just doing something to write a book about it. Like travelling round Ireland with a fridge. These books don't need to be In the world. It's disgusting careerism. Just journalism. Offensive. The writing is appalling, barely literate and what do you get out of it. A few facts out of Wikipedia. Something about oh I like hawthorn bushes they're fab
Wait what are you talking about? Have you ever read anything by him? The person you describe is worthy of scorn but it's not Mcfarlane.
 

suspended

Well-known member
Richard Powers mentioned him in a recent interview and I was intrigued and expected him to be some craggy explorer, but he seems more like a Blue Peter or Countryfile presenter. Disappointing.
He's like the origin of Richard Powers lol, if you bite the bullet on Powers, Mcfarlane is much better I think
 

suspended

Well-known member
I reviewed Underland for 4columns

http://4columns.org/reynolds-simon/underland

Really enjoyed it (and the previous one Landmarks, a celebration of other earlier Nature writers and formative influences - although that one can be ever so slightly prissy in its precision lyricism - a quality that's gone with the new book, the prose is loosened up, for the better).

When I was reading Underland, I actually thought, "I'll Amazon this to Luke as a surprise, he'll dig it ".... but then something checked the impulse, I thought "actually, I bet he won't dig it, I bet he doesn't like Macfarlane at all.... "

But I could not have imagined the ferocity of the loathing!
Yes it's a small differences thing right, he's working with archetypes of the natural world like Luke does and so there's a rivalry and also a heightened sensitivity to any trespasses or deviations from his own sense about how to set about these things
 

luka

Well-known member
I know Tim Powers who wrote the classic Anubis Gate but I don't know Richard Powers
 

suspended

Well-known member
I've purchased Wild Things, Underland, and Landmarks.

I read the first section of Underland and liked it. It does have some sort of "Wikipedia" bits or what you could call pop sci synopsis for the masses, but I think it's just a different audience and agenda, he's writing to people who don't understand what the Upper Paleolithic Revolution was and that's fine, there's still plenty to value in his handling, and he quite elegantly knits a number of symbolic/practice human relations to the underworld together.

I'm reading bits of Landmarks now and find it a bit less interesting, the glossaries are beautiful but he waxes a bit too nostalgic in the introduction about ooh digital technology this ooh think of the children that. But the mere feat of collecting these glossaries is very useful as a contribution and preservation of human knowledge.

Have not delved into Wild Places yet and sorta expect I'll like it least of all.
 

luka

Well-known member
I read one called the old ways I think, and maybe another one too. Maybe you have to be English to realise how slimy and malevolent he is.
 

luka

Well-known member
Simon is denaturalised. He's much more American than English now, and in any case, he is also Oxbridge elite like Macfaralane and they do tend to close ranks when necessary.
 

suspended

Well-known member
I can see finding the person not exactly likable, but the books are just so useful:
A Landmarks glossary titled “Underlands” is probably the seed of the new book, which is a lexical delight in its own right, a feast of terms for underground spaces: ghost rivers, dolines, barrows (or burial mounds), ossuaries, clathrate (very deep ice), the siphons and galleries of cave systems, sinkholes, and many more.
 

suspended

Well-known member
Robert Pogue Harrison is the other writer I know who works with archetypes and natural symbols this way; Forests is really beautiful, as is Gardens, although they (esp Forests) are quite different from McFarlane, more academic and ancient, an adventure through text instead of landscape, aimed at academic instead of, well, Radio 4 listeners
 

WashYourHands

Cat Malogen
Macfarlane didnt even have the balls to go to my school

Worst kind of landscape twaddle. Linguistics but no allusion to deep time. No sense of human occupation or agency, a land of dead signs bleached of meaning

The Bill Bryson of Brits
 
Top