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Park Notes review beautifully crafted ruminations on Regent's Park

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Sarah Pickstone gathers writings from Sylvia Plath, Virginia Woolf, Olivia Laing and others to fine effect

We are often invited to think of London's parks as the lungs of the city, its breathing spaces. Their function has never just been entirely corporeal though; they are equally the places in which the city has done its thinking. Every time I walk down Highgate Hill, on my way to work, past the little, missable, floor-level plaque that announces the now demolished cottage of poet Andrew Marvell, I'm reminded, looking down on the skyline from his vantage point, of his indelible aspiration: "annihilating all that's made, to a green thought, in a green shade".

That desire has long been a Londoner's statement of intent. It might also serve as an introduction to Sarah Pickstone's beautifully crafted book, Park Notes. Pickstone is a painter, but it was words that set her green thoughts in motion. In October 2009 she was, she recalls, "sitting on a plastic bag on the damp grass of Regent's Park Inner Circle, coffee in one hand, pencil in the other trying to draw the sun". After a while, she gave up, put her pencil behind her ear and began to read a pamphlet she had just bought, which contained a story by Ali Smith, called The Definite Article.

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