The Blue Plateau: A Landscape Memoir

Published : Saturday, January 02, 2010 | Label: Books  

The Blue Plateau was the first book I sat down to write. It changed a lot in the writing, and I wrote a lot of other books before I got to the end of it, but it was always going to be the book it became, once I became the man I needed to be to write it. The book is my attempt, in my accent, to do for the Blue Mountains, west of Sydney, what Henry David Thoreau did in Walden, and Karen Blixen did in Out of Africa, and Annie Dillard did in Pilgrim at Tinker Creek, and Jim Galvin did in The Meadow. It’s a divination of a stretch of country, the Blue Mountains, west of Sydney; it’s a memoir of a place and what it made of me and what it had to teach me about the practice of belonging, which begins with forgetfulness of self.

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Anne Fadiman (Ex Libris) says: “I was mesmerized by The Blue Plateau. Few works of nature writing have captured the intersection between people and place with anything close to this book’s power.”

One reader wrote to say the book was like Cormac McCarthy without the violence.

Donna Seaman, reviewing the book in Booklist (15 October 2009) wrote: “Tredinnick’s mission in this strikingly beautiful testimony to the power of place is to convey the texture and ambiance of the Blue Plateau, and his spangled sentences glide like creeks around mighty eucalyptus, humble homes, and rough terrain marked by his neighbors’ stories of hard work, deprivation, stoicism, miraculous survival, and tragic death.

“Tredinnick is an ardent listener and observer, attentive to animals, people, and weather as he reads deep time in the “narrative arc of stone,” immerses himself in old photographs and diaries, senses that the land “wants to be known,” and muses over the dream of belonging.”

Another reader writes: “I read The Blue Plateau nice and slow, and felt at the end of it that if my writing could make even one person feel the way yours made me feel, I would consider myself a good writer. It was a mixture of emotions: vulnerability, connectedness, longing, sadness, gratitude—profound.”

(Launching my poetry collection, Fire Diary in December 2010) Judy Beveridge commented: ”The Blue Plateau is really a long and very beautiful poem. In some ways Fire Diary, Mark’s first book of poems, carries on from what Mark pulled off in The Blue Plateaunature writing at its finest. Along with Fire Diary, The Blue Plateau must surely establish Mark as one of our great poets of place—not just of geographic place, but of the spiritual and moral landscape as well.

“I think it was Wallace Stevens who talked about the extent to which he believed that ‘the soil (was) man’s intelligence.’ We could say that Mark Tredinnick believes that ‘the soil is man’s soul, and I think that Mark would certainly agree with that old adage that says: we don’t know who we are until we know where we are.”

Reviewing The Blue Plateau in Australian Book Review, Kevin Brophy commented on the rough-hewn beauty of the prose. Bill Kittredge wrote of it “The Blue Plateau is a gift. This book is a guide to understanding all of us, everywhere; one of those books you read slowly, so it will last, and this one will. This one will be around.”

Phil Condon wrote in Orion magazine: ”Part nonfiction novel, part classic pastoral, part nature elegy, part natural history, the whole of The Blue Plateau conveys a deep sense, rooted in the very syntax of a lush prose about an austere land, that there can be no meaningful division between nature and culture, between humans and all the other life that interdepends with us, not in the backcountry of southeastern Australia, nor anywhere else.”

The Blue Plateau is beautifully published in Australia by the University of Queensland Press (UQP) (July 2009), and by Milkweed Editions in the US (October 2009).

It shortlisted for the Prime Minister’s Prize (2010) and the ACT Book of the Year Award (2010). It won the Queensland Premier’s Literary Award (2010).

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