If I were to describe Olivia Laing’s To the River: A Journey Beneath the Surface in one word, I would call it slentrende, which is a Norwegia word for saunting:
A verb of unconfirmed origin, saunter means to “walk with a leisurely gait.” As a noun, saunter describes that leisurely gait. Henry David Thoreau once said “it is a great art to saunter.”
In To the River Laing walks & writes along the river Ouse from its source to the sea, keeping company with Virginia Woolf as she strolls along. Laing is developing the art of sauntering beautifully, as she let historical facts and anecdotes mix in with her own story.
I’ve not yet finished reading the book, really its the kind of book you don’t want to end – it stitches together nature writing, cultural history & literature in a poetic and mindfull way…