List price: $27.99

A Flat Place

Moving Through Bare Landscapes, Living with Trauma

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.

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 Masud has been fascinated with flatness, and our connection to it (or lack thereof), for decades, and finds in these places a solace and opportunity to reflect on mental well-being and self-hood, which make them just as poetic and valuable as the sublime.

Citing the works of Percy Shelley, Willa Cather, W. G. Sebald and many others, 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, nonsense, leftovers, earworms, footnotes, rhymes, hymns, surprises, folk songs, colors and superstition.