I don’t read a lot of non-fiction, particularly biographies, so I was curious when the Outrun was recommended to me recently. Winner of the Wainright prize 2016, the Outrun is the memoir of Amy Liptrot, who, aged thirty, heads back to Orkney (and her parents’ Outrun) to try and rebuild her life after alcohol addiction and loss in London.
Don’t get me wrong, the story is an uncomfortable one. It is with visceral, brutally honest depictions of dipsomania (alcohol addiction- yep, I had to Google this too); the blackouts, seizures and regrets. Particularly hard-hitting considering we are of a similar age. But what made it for me was her writing. I fell in love with her lyrical descriptions of the beautiful Orkney Islands; the wildlife, the sea, the sky. I enjoyed the more positive stories: the RSPB’s quest to save the endangered Corncrake, and the Orkney Polar Bears, the group of eccentric swimmers. I also learnt so much about the history and mythology of Orkney. Not bad for 276 pages!
Her addiction to alcohol will never go away, but Orkney and its wonderful people definitely aided her recovery. An inspiring tale. And I kind of want to visit Orkney…