by Neil Ansell
An unexpected memoir.
Deer Island was not at all what I expected. Having thoroughly enjoyed Neil Ansell's previous book, Deep Country: five years in the Welsh hills, and seeing his new book's title, I naively assumed that this was going to be more of the same: deeply personal nature writing. As it turned out, the nature is sparse, but the writing itself is even more deeply personal.
Most of this short, highly unusual memoir is set in London squats in the 1980s. As such, this is not the sort of book I would usually read, let alone enjoy. Yet I certainly did enjoy it. You get a real appreciation for what it must be like to be homeless and abandoned by polite society.
I won't spoil the book by explaining what London squats have to do with a deer island.