maandag 15 november 2010
The Unofficial Countryside
Through the many reviews of his new book I came across Richard Mabey's old book 'The Unofficial Countryside' (1973). These are Review Review for his new book, 'Weeds: How Vagabond Plants Gatecrashed Civilisation and Changed the Way We Think About Nature', and the title alone is enough to rouse our interest in Mabey, a London writer, forager and cryptoforester avant-la-lettre. The unofficial countryside is a bit of a crap name, because the areas he visits and writes about are clearly part of the city and it doesn't help either that Mabey is a birdwatcher: the annoying thing about birdwatchers is their habit of wanting to tell you about every blue tit and gold-crested ding-dong they have seen, even if it has no relevance at all to the overall story. It is probably the first book of its kind and many things Mabey writes have now become accepted; an admirable feat. But I have to say that I found it a slightly disappointing read. Perhaps I had too high hopes. Iain Sinclair re-reviewed it for The Guardian in May 2010.