Following the journey of the river Dart from its source to the sea, Alice Oswald has woven a work of meandering voices that conjures up every person the water encounters on its way.
Using three-years worth of recorded conversations as her starting point, Alice has summoned up the river’s many aspects and visitors, from an elderly hiker carrying “tent, torch, chocolate, not much else” to a naturalist “hiding in red-brown grass all different lengths”, to a forester “knocking the long shadows down”, to a young, drowned canoeist, and the result is a quiet yet powerful deluge you can dip in and out of at your leisure or allow to carry you along at a rate of knots.
I began to read it shortly after Christmas, during a train journey that cut through Somerset’s flooded countryside, where fields had been transformed into shimmering swamplands. It felt curiously apt. Continue reading