Author: Robert L. Harris –
Publisher: HarperAudio –
Genre: Reportage, Documentary –
Overall rating: 5/5 –
Writing: 5/5 –
Duration: 9:30 (short) –
Narrator: Robert L. Harris –
Narrator/performance: 5/5 –
Impressions: n/a –
Performance errors: 0/5 –
Complexity/reading level: 5/5 –
This is a strong contender for my personal listing for Book of the Year 2023. The book is a coherent set of recollections and meditations recording three decades the Author spent working on a small Irish island of Skellig Michael. I was captivated by the honesty, humility and ambition of this work. Robert L. Harris is not a professional writer as this is his debut. This work is the result of an amount of research that today can only be described as unparalleled. Perhaps such an unquestionable understanding of the subject was more common for writers in the past. I was left with an impression that our fast-paced times do not allow us even to come near to that kind of immersion.
I was deeply moved by Author’s tolerance. He shows a rather rare approach where Christian pilgrimage is just one of the options available for the visitors of Skellig Michael. The religious convictions of the Author are not thrown upon the reader. The reader is able to enjoy the sacrum in its many aesthetic forms, if only in the form of the beauty and the force of nature. The metaphysical is shown as a personal impression, not the reality. The wildlife sheltering and breeding on the island is just as vulnerable as the humans who witness its struggle with much emotion. The historical site is analyzed, if unconsciously, in a modern fashion, where the observer dives into the details of the moving light and the sounds. We are invited to share this secluded place with its long-gone inhabitants – the monks – pondering on their motivations, experiences and their place in the larger scheme of history and culture. Robert L. Harris was able to capture so many various aspects of the place that the image rings true. His testimony is not only artistic but also exhaustive.
I was surprised to find that during these 30 long years, the Author encountered only one “rogue” bunch of sailors. I thought that such happy-go-lucky visitors were more common in such places.
The recording is a very good one. The Author did a great job. His unpretentiousness and earnestness helped him not only with the process of writing but also with this task. I am deeply inspired.
Would I recommend the book? Only to readers with a poetic streak – but otherwise without hesitation.
Beautiful cover, I am very happy that this debut was produced with so much care and professionalism.