Thin Places


Product Details

$18.00  $16.74
Milkweed Editions
Publish Date
5.4 X 8.4 X 0.8 inches | 0.85 pounds

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About the Author

Kerri ní Dochartaigh is the author of Thin Places. She has written for The Guardian, the Irish Times, the BBC, Winter Papers, and others. She is from the North West of Ireland but now lives in the middle, in an old railway cottage with her partner and dog.


Praise for Thin Places

"A remarkable piece of writing. I don't think I've ever read a book as open-hearted as this. It resists easy pieties of nature as a healing force, but nevertheless charts a recovery which could never have been achieved without landscape, wild creatures and 'thin places.' It is also flocked with luminous details (moths, birds, feathers, skulls, moving water). Kerri's voice is utterly her own, rich and strange. I've folded down the corners of many pages, marking sentences and moments that glitter out at me. Wow."--Robert Macfarlane, author of Underland

"How does a person contend with coming from a place where suffering is part of its legacy? . . . It takes ní Dochartaigh many years to find her way back to the most important place of all: herself. Whether she's meditating on moths or birds or the vivid colors of her home country, it's her own perspective on the world around her that grounds her, soothes her, and offers solace."--Michele Filgate, Boston Globe"Luminous . . . For the author, who has suffered from alcoholism, depression, and suicidal ideation, the wild places surrounding her hometown help release her anxieties and bring her unparalleled peace. They have become her thin places. A beautifully written tribute to the healing power of nature."--Kirkus Reviews, Starred Review"In writing that's ethereal and elliptical, [Dochartaigh] laments Ireland's collective 'loss of connection with the natural world' and cleverly uses this 'unwilding' as a warning about the threat of extinction faced by indigenous flora and fauna, and also as a lens through which to look at the toll of oppression and violence on humanity . . . By turns subtle and urgent, this offers a powerful and complex portrait of a land and its people." --Publishers Weekly"'Where does the past cease?' ní Dochartaigh writes on the eve of Brexit in this deeply personal memoir that takes place amid a resurgence of division, violence, and uncertainty in Northern Ireland . . . Ní Dochartaigh's unique writing moves between a personal journey of healing, the fragility and importance of the environment, and a powerful call for peace."--Booklist"This raw and affecting work confronts a complicated inheritance with both grief and hope . . . With grace and a keen sense of history and the natural world, Thin Places pays complicated tribute to a troubled place and time."--Foreword Reviews"Luminous and achingly honest . . . The memoir's evocative style is riveting, layering images of the natural places where the author finds solace with the urban spaces where she lives most of her life . . . What Thin Places ultimately leaves us with is the courage to speak the unspeakable, even if our voices shake."--Gretchen Lida, Washington Independent Review of Books"A beautiful and harrowing book about trauma, the potential to heal and the subtle magic of the wild. Kerri ní Dochartaigh offers us a fragile kind of redemption, full of truth and solace."--Katherine May, author of Wintering"Part hymn to nature, part Troubles memoir . . . the two strands, one wondrous and elemental, the other violent and unsettling, sustained by the vividly descriptive prose. . . . Unflinching in its intensity . . . Thin Places is at heart a survivor's story located in the real and brutally Darwinian world of lived experience."The Guardian"Ní Dochartaigh's connection to the natural world [rises] every time her personal world seems about to sink. And it's in these moments where the writing is at its most revelatory."--Christa Laib, The Adroit Journal"In Thin Places, Dochartaigh teaches as much as she muses, blurring the line between environmental nonfiction... and elegant memoir.""Reflective memoir and folkloric tales weave together in this haunting evocative story of a childhood unfolding during the Troubles in Northern Ireland. Prose that reads, at times, more like poetry captures the burning desire to find balance and peace within the heart and soul of an ancient land and its modern inhabitants. Superbly beautiful, raw, heartbreaking writing that takes its place among the stars."--BJ Hegedus, Postalworks Silver Lake"Moving effortlessly between the generational violence of the Troubles and the redemptive solace of the Irish landscape, Thin Places is at once a searing meditation on trauma and healing, a wild celebration of nature, and a wise reckoning with the complicated legacies of history, identity, and language. It is a beautiful and haunting memoir; it sings its way into your blood and your bones, takes you by the hand, and leads you across arbitrary borders to the gaps in our world. It leaves you changed, scoured clean, and ultimately, hopeful for the future."--Rebecca Speas, One More Page Books"An absolute gem of a book. Part biography and part natural history, it's wonderfully told, giving one a palpable sense of place as well as the history of Ireland through a prism of the natural world. Fans of Robert Macfarlane and Aimee Nezhukumatathil will be right at home."--Cody Morrison, Square Books"Thin Places by Kerri ní Dochartaigh is luminescent. Blending nature writing, memoir and history, Thin Places is a quietly vivid yet disturbing and wondrous book about national, generational and personal trauma. She describes her family's experience during the height of the Troubles in Ireland and the terror inflicted on her family--one parent was Catholic, the other Protestant. But it's also a book about healing and how the natural world helped her process grief and loss and reclaim her identity and sense of home." --Michelle Malonzo, Changing Hands"A mix of memoir and nature writing, Thin Places examines the lasting repercussions from the traumas of our youth and the locations that ground us when the resulting noise becomes overwhelming. Kerri ní Dochartaigh has more reasons than most to feel tension around the borders of her life. Growing up during the Troubles, the daughter of a Protestant and a Catholic, she found little safety in the environs they called home but has now returned to those very locations with the hope that the land itself might be a balm for old wounds. Ní Dochartaigh's writing is raw and harrowing as she recounts her own life, but it is also beautiful and hopeful as she illustrates the resiliency of nature and her own ability to heal. A moving and memorable achievement." --Luisa Smith, Book Passage"Oh, how my heart kept breaking and mending itself over the course of reading this book, in the same way the author found herself broken yet put back together time and time again, in the same way that Ireland has been split yet maintained its geographical whole time and time again. I was immediately captivated by Kerri ní Dochartaigh's acute sense of the veil between worlds, of Ireland's ancient folklore and how it still buttresses the present, and of the connections that irrevocably bind us to the land beneath our feet, to the beings (seen and unseen) that surround us, to one another, and even to our own selves. Her book drove home for me the fact that, matter how we may try to divide ourselves into pieces, we are forever linked by just being alive." --Anna Claire Weber, While Whale Bookstore"A beautiful, heartbreaking, but ultimately hopeful book about how borders, real or imagined, can have devastating real life consequences. And how the body and mind, ravaged by trauma, can be healed by nature and place. Thin Places is both a memoir, and a tale of nature as a healing refuge, with the history of Ireland woven throughout." --Alana Haley, Schuler Books"Ní Dochartaigh's intense, urgent prose carries her from childhood with her broken family in broken Derry, to a village of illusory peace in her teen years, to university and beyond. She leaves Derry to escape and finally returns to try to work through her trauma just as Brexit begins to fracture the city again. Throughout years of seemingly fruitless searching for a safe home, she is consoled by the natural world--in her tiny childhood backyard, or on the banks of the river Foyle, or by the sea. And though she is shunned as the child of a Catholic mother and a Protestant father, she reclaims her heritage through the Irish language. This compelling story of forging an identity while surrounded by division is full of beautiful descriptions and hard truths." --Suzanne Morgan, Politics & Prose"Beautiful, contemplative, and stirring. Kerri ní Dochartaigh's memoir is a gorgeous meditation on borders of all types--between north and south; Protestant and Catholic; the physical and the ephemeral; trauma and health. Thin Places is a must-read for anyone interested in either the lingering specter of The Troubles or the stunning nature writing at which so many Milkweed authors excel." --Emilie Sommer, East City Bookshop"Raw, hollowed and in the end as Dochartaigh says, hallowed--those are the descriptive words that first come to mind after reading this memoir of growing up during the Troubles in Derry Northern Ireland. Dochartaigh is one of the most outspoken, brutally honest yet sensitive authors I've ever read. It is as beautiful as it is razor sharp and her descriptions of the 'thin places' within us as well as in nature will stay with you. The shadow crow that haunts her will visit your dream time. The beautiful descriptions of landscape and the nature that inhabits both this realm, the inner one, and the space between us and the healing that takes place when it is are breathtaking. Exquisite." --Maeve Noonan, Northshire"I have never read a memoir so intimate with regards to the writer's trauma. Kerri ní Dochartaigh weaves Irish mythology, nature, and the significance of place together in this poignant life story. Absolutely mesmerizing!" --Stephanie Crowe, Page and Palette"Thin Places is fierce and fiercely original in its exploration of the relationship between nature, place and politics in Northern Ireland. Just when you think there isn't more to be said about The Troubles, Kerri ní Dochartaigh proves you wrong." --Lesley Rains, City of Asylum Bookstore"Open-hearted and remarkable writing." --Mollie Mitchell, HearthFire Books"Kerri ní Dochartaigh's grandfather was born the year that the border was established for Northern Ireland in 1921. She was born in 1983 during the middle year of the Troubles, which began in 1968 and ended with a peace agreement in 1998. Her hometown of Derry was where the Troubles began, and she left as a young adult after years of trauma in that war zone. This book is a memoir of how she reckoned with it. In searching for thin places, and the wee places, where healing might be found, she struggled with being a victim, victimizing others, and trying to accept a healthy relationship. She sought solace in nature, recognizing the resilience of many species other than humans which we might very well extinguish by our actions. In all those years, she most of all needed a safe place in order to heal, and hopefully this deeply personal journey has yielded that. The ability for us to deal well with trauma is a message that is needed now more than ever. It's a book I want to hand to a friend who's struggling, and it gave me insights I didn't have before." --Todd Miller, Arcadia Books"This is a powerful book. Dochartaigh describes her childhood in Northern Ireland amidst the violence and fury of sectarian conflict and the importance of beauty in the natural world to soothe the trauma. While often the thin places she describes are where beauty lies in nature's ethereal places, it is a reminder that the peace between us exists in thin places as well. Life, love, all of it is fragile and delicate and must be cared for." -- Katrina Mendrey, Chapter One Bookstore, Hamilton, MT