“It’s 1973, Watergate and Vietnam, the Grateful Dead. What are you going to be when you grow up? asks a friend. A lighthouse keeper, says our 20-year old. . . . Hill, now 51, went on to become a painter and art critic, but one gets the sense, which infuses the book with a rare sweetness, that this was the best year in his life.” Susan Salter Reynolds, Los Angeles Times Book Review
Memoirs of a Young Lighthouse Keeper
978-1-84195-651-0 • $13.00 • Paperback • June 2005
In this sublime reminiscence of the pleasures of solitude, the wonders of the sea, and the odd courses life takes, Peter Hill writes “in 1973 I worked as a lighthouse keeper on three islands off the west coast of Scotland. Before taking the job I didn’t really think through what a lighthouse keeper actually did. I was attracted by the romantic notion of sitting on a rock, writing haikus and dashing off the occasional watercolour. The light itself didn’t seem important: it might have been some weird coastal decoration, like candles on a Christmas tree, intended to bring cheer to those living in the more remote parts of the country.”
Hill learned quickly, though, of the centuries-old mechanics of the lighthouse, of the life-and-death necessity of its luminescence to the seafarers, and of the great and unlikely friendships formed out of routine. With his head filled with Hendrix, Kerouac, and the war in Vietnam, Hill shared cups of tea and close quarters with salty lighthouse keepers of an entirely different generation. The stories they shared and idiosyncrasies they exhibited came to define a summer the Hill has memorialized with great wit and a disarmingly affectionate style.