The intersection between British (mostly) soldiers in World War I and nature seemed almost fanciful when I picked this one up. Like, there have been so many millions of words lavished on WWI from every possible angle, every conceivable breadth and depth thoroughly mined for recording, remembering, analysing, hypothesising, learning.
I really enjoyed this though, and it’s not really that much of a stretch to connect war and nature, especially a war in which animals were used and kept by the army itself – their ratting cats and terriers, their horses, mules, donkeys and camels, their messenger pigeons and dogs. This is only one small facet of the soldier’s experience of non-human life on the front though. Plant life, insect life, birds, vermin, nuisances, all existed around and among the armies, and they were reassured, comforted, bothered, sickened by it, perceiving it through their own personal lenses as humans are wont to do.
I have my soft spots, like anyone, and one of my guiltiest ones is life in stately homes and fancy old estates, despite my dislike of the British class system. I also like quiet stories where not much happens, but at the same time, everything happens. It took everything in me not to inhale Mothering Sunday in one gulp. Not that I have anything against swallowing a book whole, just that my son would probably have something to say about me being emotionally unavailable for so long, if he was old enough to talk.
Short thoughts for short book today, though not because I didn’t enjoy it or because there isn’t anything to say about it. Some books are just like that, compact in your mind.
Another one off the backlog pile! Annoyingly it’s been so long since I read it that most of my very specific feelings have faded with time, but eh, we press on. Spoilers though. I deliberately didn’t read the Introduction till after I’d finished because even the publisher warns the first-time reader about revealed plot details. It was a good choice to wait, so if you want to read it, skip my thoughts.
More dissident poetry! It was a rough early June in 2017 when we lost Irina Ratushinskaya and Liu Xiaobo in quick succession. This one felt a little bit like the baddies won though, if I can use such simplistic/childish language. Whereas Ratushinskaya lived to see her freedom and the end of the Soviet Union, Liu died in detention, the first Nobel prizewinner to do so since 1935 (says the internet).
I’m going to try to keep the comparisons to a minimum, but humans are pattern-seeking creatures, and I haven’t read nearly enough poetry in translation to help myself. So no promises.
Slightly embarrassing admission, I picked this one up as story research (for a story that I haven’t finished or touched in a while – indeed, the same story I read Gifts of the Crow for – but still).
The tempting thing is to compare it to Gifts of the Crow, and indeed the authors seem to have rubbed scientific shoulders before, which makes sense given that they’re in the same field, but let’s not, if only because it’s been a long time and having a baby has melted vast holes in my brain.