a new edition of climbers
If I’m delighted to have Climbers–certainly my best novel–back in print, I’m even more delighted to have an introduction to it by Robert Macfarlane, author of The Wild Places and The Old Ways, and chair of this year’s Man Booker Prize judges. Here’s a glimpse–
So let me try to express a little of the amazement I feel when standing in front of the work of Harrison … To read Light, Nova Swing, Empty Space or Climbers is to encounter fiction doing what fiction must: carrying out the kinds of thinking and expression that would be possible in no other form. I pass through his novels feeling a mixture of wonder, calmness and disturbance; I end them brain-jarred and unsettled. It takes time to recover. Metaphysical tremors and echoes persist for days afterwards…
It takes time, also, to realise that what feels at first like bleakness in Harrison’s novels is in fact something more like parity of gaze. He offers lucidity without pity, but without rancour either. Although the fierce ease with which capitalism husks humanity is one of his main anxieties, and although debris–emotional and material–is one of his chief preoccupations, and although rupture and damage are the textures that most attract his eye, his vision is devoid neither of tenderness nor of hope. His compassion will be unmistakable to anyone who reads him…
Robert Macfarlane’s engagement with landscape and the philosophy of landscape is acute, searching and in the best sense poetic. His work places him firmly in a tradition which stretches back to the Romantics, while his understanding of the anti-sublime makes him fiercely contemporary. To have this introduction isn’t just a thrill: it gives me hope that Climbers might in some way fit into and extend that tradition too. That will have made it worth being a writer.
Climbers is published in May, and available for pre-order, on Kindle or paper, at Amazon now.