287th out of 339 books — 244 voters
by Neil M. Gunn
Ken is a scientist, with a scientist's dispassionate eye for the material world, as he reviews his life from the difficult 1930s, through the slaughter of World War I, back to an idyllic boyhood in the Highlands. When the mature man finally reaches the source of the river that has haunted his imagination for so many years, he finds that the wellsprings of magic and delight...more
Paperback, 242 pages
Published September 10th 2001 by Canongate U.S.
(first published 1937)
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Upon beginning this novel, I felt the sensations experienced while reading Laurie Lee´s Cider with Rosie many years ago--a delight in the experiences described so succinctly and beautifully. Highland River could be considered a coming-of-age novel, but actually it is the story of a lifelong quest for meaning where childhood, adolescent and young adulthood experiences play a pivotal role. The meaning sought is found in the main character´s Scottish highland roots, in the river which borders his h...more
From an essay on this book in The Fabulous Matter of Fact: The Poetics of Neil M. Gunn:
In Highland River Gunn's interest is remembrance, in the relation of single events to much wider issues, and in the expression of philosophical ideas through the medium of constructed memory . . . Despite its seemingly introspective theme -- the recollection of a Highland childhood -- there is a more deliberate outward-looking sensibility. That Gunn did not conceive of the book as a novel suggests why it is so...more
It's the story of a young boy, growing up in the little Caithness fishing village of Dunbeath and his relationship with the local river. The parts of the story involving the boy, his brothers and family are enchanting and full of colour and adventure but once it wanders into his growing up and participating in WW1, it goes rapidly downhill. Whatever possessed the author to drone on with self-analytical drivel and philosophysing is unknown but I really just wanted to drop the book down a hole at...more
Neil Gunn (1891-1973), one of Scotland's most prolific and distinguished novelists, wrote over a period that spanned the Recession, the political crises of the 1920's and 1930's, and the Second World War and its aftermath. Although nearly all his 20 novels are set in the Highlands of Scotland, he is not a regional author in the narrow sense of that description; his novels reflect a search for mean...moreMore about Neil M. Gunn...