Our relationships with our parents are fraught with complication. There is just too much — for better or for worse — that we can inherit from them. Even if they’re ceaselessly loving. Even if they’re largely absent from our lives. Even if we resist.
On today’s show — the first of our five-week exploration of familial love — we welcome author James Rebanks of The Shepherd’s Life and The Shepherd’s View. Recently in town from the UK, Jacqueline met up with him in a Lower East Side park to ask him five questions about the tough realities of living as a shepherd in the northwest corner of England. What they’ve taught him about love for his land, love for his work, and for the father and grandfather who had been working that same job on that same land before him. What he expresses eloquently gets at the heart of what we’re pondering as we study how we love our grandfathers and fathers in this episode. Have a listen, and then call someone you love.
About James Rebanks
James Rebanks runs a family-owned farm in the Lake District in northern England. A graduate of Oxford University, James works as an expert advisor to UNESCO on sustainable tourism. He is the author of The Shepherd’s Life and The Shepherd’s View. Connect with James on Twitter for discussions on sustainable farming and photos of SHEEP!
About The Shepherd’s Life* and The Shepherd’s View
*Named one of the Top Ten Books of 2015 by Michiko Kakutani in The New York Times
In the span of a few short years, James Rebanks went from unknown rural shepherd to international phenomenon. First with his popular Twitter account @herdyshepherd1 and then with his critically acclaimed and New York Times bestselling memoir The Shepherd’s Life, James brought a lifestyle kept alive by a few hundred farming families in the Lake District of England to readers around the globe. The Associated Press noted Rebanks’ rising star, writing: “James Rebanks is probably the world’s most famous shepherd…Readers around the world have flocked to Rebanks’ dispatches from a way of life that has — against the odds — survived industrialization, globalization, and mass tourism.”
Now using his camera lens and nimble prose, Rebanks invites readers to step onto the land where his family has worked as shepherds for generations in his visually stunning new book: THE SHEPHERD’S VIEW: Modern Photographs from an Ancient Landscape (Flatiron Books; October 18, 2016).
With over 80 breathtaking, full-color photographs, Rebanks chronicles the daily life of the shepherding community through the seasons, from the pastoral baking competitions and sheep shows of the spring into the harsh snows of winter. He introduces his neighbors, his mentors, the loyal sheepdogs that work right by his side, and other local characters who keep this community alive and pass along its traditions.
The original prose that runs alongside James’ pictures is equally captivating. The “quiet eloquence” of Rebanks’ writing that Michiko Kakutani praised in her New York Times review of The Shepherd’s Life shines through in his wise ruminations on camaraderie, tradition, and the language of the fell. Rebanks’ words are not only imbued with poetry, but also with reverence and love.
A transporting book from one of England’s most celebrated new voices, THE SHEPHERD’S VIEW captures a way of life that has proven it is very much here to stay.
Photo of James Rebanks by Eamonn McCabe, courtesy James Rebanks