The Outrun – Amy Liptrot
The Last Word Review
For Amy Liptrot a life that seemed to be on the very edge of life. Struggling with addiction to alcohol, life seemed to be overtaking her and really taking her to some very dark places The Outrun is the 2016 Wainwright Prize winning memoir and also shortlisted for the 2016 Wellcome Prize. An evocative account of her own life mixed with brilliant nature writing.
How many of us when we were young want the bright lights of London and seek the fame and fortune that went with it. For Amy Liptrot a life growing up on Orkney she yearned for the bright lights of London that seemed a lifetime away. She wanted it all and most of all to leave the Island life. Growing up on Orkney was difficult not just the isolation but for Amy is was trouble at home with her father suffering mental health problems and a deeply religious mother leaned Amy away from all things religion. London was calling her.
London though as many young people find is full of temptations, and for Amy for the coming years it was living life with all its extremes of drink, drugs and sex. Life was a never ending rollercoaster of everything that could be wrong for her. Amy was going downhill and quickly. To be able to admit to yourself that you are in trouble is brave then to be determined to want to do something about it is braver still for this brave young woman she was determined not to become another statistic and so she sought help. She entered rehab to try and rid herself of the poison that was destroying her young life and would eventually kill her.
Amy returns home to Orkney and this is her story of how nature is a great healer but she also has her own demons to cope with as she comes to terms with dealing with the problems of her young life. Growing up on a remote sheep farm on Orkney is not an easy life mix that with family problems and the yearning to escape is easy to understand. Life in London is much faster than the quiet and peaceful life of the remote island of Orkney. Now home Amy visits the sheep farm where she grew up. Being home among its wildlife and the extremes of the weather helps Amy recover from the effects of alcohol as she looks back on her life and the decisions she made and how it got her to where she is today.
This really is not just a memoir this is a piece of incredible nature writing at its very best. For someone like me who loves nature and nature writing this is exceptional. Reading Amy’s account of her troubled life and how she rebuilds it back among the wildlife and weather and the natural history of these Scottish Islands has left a lasting mark. As you read her accounts of swimming in the sea watching the changing season and its wildlife as well as she talks of the lands that make up the islands you can almost smell the sea and feel the wind blowing in your face.
The Outrun is deeply moving at times and the quality of Amy’s writing is just outstanding. As you read you become immersed in Amy’s life and you become worried for the brave author as she struggles to overcome the temptations of life that can destroy you. It is both affecting and sad but also restorative and nature does that as it lends its helping hand to help heal a troubled soul.
A book that in itself will help anyone troubled and one I am both happy and delighted to recommend.
I can only hope that is is not the only book from Amy Liptrot as her writing qualities and there to be seen by many. I look forward to reading more from this award winning writer in the years to come.
The Outrun by Amy Liptrot is published by Canongate and is available through Waterstones and all good bookshops.