Justin Hopper
2017 |
National characteristics, British

A woman stands at the edge of a cliff, looking out to sea and the horizon. Dancers welcome the sun in a circle of stones. A dowsing road turns without warning. A church bell. Footsteps. Old Weird Albion is America writer Justin Hopper's dark love song to the English South; a poetic essay interrogating the high, haunted landscape of the South Downs Way; the memories, myths and forgotten histories from Winchester to Beachy Head. When someone disappears, when someone leaps from a cliff and is all-but-erased from memory, what traces might we find in the crumbling chalk of the cliff face; in the wind that buffets the edge of this Albion? A skewed alternative to Bill Bryson, Hopper casts himself as the outsider as he wanders the English countryside in pursuit of mystical encounters. His journey sees him joining New Age eccentrics and accidental visionaries on the hunt for crop circles and druidic stones, discussing the power of nature with ecotherapists and pagans, tracing the ruins of abandoned settlements and walking the streets of eerie suburbs. Through a startling revelation of his own family history, Hopper turns part detective, part memoirist, tracking the footsteps of his grandfather's first wife, Doris; piecing together her forgotten history.

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The Old Weird Albion