cover image Galloway: Life in a Vanishing Landscape

Galloway: Life in a Vanishing Landscape

Patrick Laurie. Counterpoint, $16.95 trade paper (272p) ISBN 978-1-64009-500-7

Journalist Laurie shines in his debut, a heartstring-tugging and beautifully written account of farming in his ancestral home of Galloway, an obscure region in Scotland that had once been an independent kingdom. Blending arch humor (“Tourism operators say we are ‘Scotland’s best-kept secret,’ and tourists support that claim by ignoring us”) with evocative prose, Laurie shares stories of his experience raising a rare breed of cattle native to the region on his family’s farm, in an attempt to commune with the land his forefathers worked, a place that’s “been overlooked so long that we have fallen off the map.” To give a better, if disheartening, sense of the ways in which the region’s rich history has changed, he looks at the fate of Galloway’s curlews: birds that belong to the sandpiper family that nest in the local fields. The curlews had been an integral part of Laurie’s childhood, their call, a “grasping, bellyroll of belonging in the space between rough grass and tall skies.” Though they had once been ubiquitous, he writes, their population has declined dramatically, due to the recent destruction of their habitat by policymakers’ push for commercial forests in the area. Like the bittersweet cry of the curlew, Laurie’s lyrical tribute will be hard to forget. Agent: Jenny Brown, Jenny Brown Assoc. (Nov.)