Karl Miller is a native of Edinburgh educated in that city and in Cambridge and Harvard. He served as literary editor of the Spectator and New Statesman, and editor of the Listener, and went on to found and edit The London Review of Books. He has a reputation as one of the greatest literary critics of the last half century, and for anyone new to his work, "Tretower to Clyro: Essays" is a nice introduction. The book is described as about "writers and their relationship with the countryside." That could certainly be said to be a unifying theme, though a subsidiary one could be said to be writers writing about writers, as some of the essays are about biographies, and biographers, of authors.
And it's not just Karl Miller's beautifully crafted writing you can enjoy in this book. There is also a 30 page introduction by Andrew O'Hagan that takes the form of an account of a road trip, or more precisely several road trips, undertaken by Karl Miller, Andrew O'Hagan and Seamus Heaney. The story of their excursion to Cairnpapple Hill, an ancient site offering views from coast to coast in central Scotland, could almost come from the pen of Boswell or Johnson.
For those who, like this reviewer, didn't know, Tretower and Clyro are settlements in Powys in Wales. But although the title of this book is a reference to Wales, half of the essays between its covers are Scottish in theme. Here we can read Miller on the subject of the fiction of Alistair MacLeod: "Where there's a clan, there's an enemy, and the enemy, in MacLeod's fiction, is the city...". Another essay deals with James Hogg and his relationship with the scattered settlement of Ettrick. Then the "writers about writers" theme kicks in, with a discussion of Peter Martin's biography of Boswell; and another about Alasdair Grey and his biographer Rodge Glass. Perhaps the most unexpected juxtaposition is in an essay that compares and contrasts, up to a point, Irvine Welsh of "Trainspotting" fame and James Hogg, the "Ettrick Shepherd" and, it seems, a football manager in his spare time.