Dan Sandman

30: As I Walked Out One Midsummer Morning by Laurie Lee

In Autobiography, Books, Non-Fiction, Travel on 22/07/2016 at 12:00 pm

As I Walked Out One Midsummer Morning by Laurie LeeLaurie Lee is the highly acclaimed writer whose work exemplifies the beauty and flexibility of the English language. In richly layered brushstrokes, Lee applies an aesthetic to the canvas which is reminiscent of the great impressionists of the late nineteenth century. His median is not paint, but in step with the likes of Pissaro and Monet he works lavishly with the colours, smells and sounds of the people and places which form his subject matter. His writing, like so much great art, appeals to the senses and therefore has a sensuous quality which transcends the simplicity of the words on the page alone. Lee’s prose is poetic in terms of its use of imagery but also in its ability to stress the importance of the word formations themselves.

As I Walked Out One Midsummer Morning is the autobiographical story of what happened to the Laurie Lee after he left his family in Slad, Gloucester. It starts out in London, where he worked hard on a few building sites and got tangled up in a few protest marches for workers’ rights. It then swiftly moves on to Spain on the brink of civil, whose threatening power tangentially lingers somewhere in the background of his experiences busking out a living with a nearly broken violin. Eventually though, the war catches up with Lee’s stories of late drinking as a hotel entertainer, or kipping where he can on almost anyone’s sofa or spare mattress. Following the epilogue, the story is left open for another sequel, which I will soon be reviewing.

I think this book could be taught by  English teachers in schools to demonstrate how important style can be with certain types of life or travel writing. We all live interesting lives, with moments of epiphany, ups and downs, and journeys into the heart of what it means to be a human being living within a particular point of space-time. Only through expressive language can we draw people away from their own version of reality and into a world where words become pictures, music or the gentle breeze of a midsummer day. The internet is full to the brim with factual knowledge, but it the story that we all have inside us and the way in which we bring it out in to the world that counts for everything.

Good autobiographic writing can teach this.


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