A Flat Place: Moving Through Empty Landscapes, Naming Complex Trauma

June 6, 2023|
A Flat Place: Moving Through Empty Landscapes, Naming Complex Trauma by Noreen Masud
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A surprising and lyrical journey—part memoir, part nature book—meditating on the meaning of "flatness" and its literary tradition to find ways to understand ourselves and our trauma in one of nature’s most undervalued wonders.

For readers of W. G. Sebald's Rings of Saturn, Amy Liptrot's The Outrun, and Richard Mabey's Nature Cure

Does the concept of "flat" have an undeservedly bad rap? There are centuries’ worth of adoration for rolling hills and dramatic, mountainous landscapes. In contrast, flat landscapes are forgettable and seemingly unworthy of poetic or artistic attention. 

Noreen suffers from complex post-traumatic stress disorder: the product of a profoundly disrupted and unstable childhood. It flattens her emotions, blanks out parts of her memory, and colours her world with anxiety. Undertaking a pilgrimage around Britain's flatlands, seeking solace and belonging, she weaves her impressions of the natural world with poetry, folklore and history, and with recollections of her own early life.

Noreen's British-Pakistani heritage makes her a partial outsider in these landscapes: both coloniser and colonised, inheritor and dispossessed. Here violence lies beneath the fantasy of pastoral innocence, and histories of harm are interwoven with nature's power to heal. Here, as in her own family history, are many stories that resist the telling. She pursues these paradoxes fearlessly across the flat, haunted spaces she loves, offering a startlingly strange, vivid and intimate account of the land beneath her feet.

Masud combines memoir, nature writing, and literary reflection to explore what can be drawn from these powerful places, and to understand her own experience of complex trauma and post-traumatic stress, as well as grief and loss. A FLAT PLACE is a book that drives to the heart of what it means to experience place — bodily and psychologically — and the healing properties of literature and landscape.
Noreen Masud is a Lecturer in Twentieth Century Literature at the University of Bristol, and an AHRC/BBC New Generation Thinker 2020. Her work focuses on the twentieth century, writing about things which, in one way or another, present variously as absurd, unrevealing, embarrassing or useless. These include aphorisms, flatness, puppets...
Title:A Flat Place: Moving Through Empty Landscapes, Naming Complex Trauma
Product dimensions:256 pages, 8.25 X 5.5 X 1 in
Shipping dimensions:256 pages, 8.25 X 5.5 X 1 in
Published:June 6, 2023
Publisher:Melville House
Appropriate for ages:All ages
ISBN - 13:9781685890247

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