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Found 1 result

  1. The Peregrine

    Since there's no nature section, I guess this is the place to post this. This is a book about a man (A.J. Baker) who develops an interest in bird watching and specifically takes an interest in peregrines. He details his fascination over the course of several months in the early sixties and follows the birds around the South of England. I read it based on several excellent reviews. It's generally considered one of the best nature books. The first two chapters detailing his interest in bird watching were indeed exquisite. The prose is gorgeous and sets up a passion which borders on obsession. His use of metaphor and simile are amazing. But I have to say, I found the diary portion to be hugely repetitive with endless descriptions of the same colours, the same landscapes, the same north easterly winds, the same list of birds (woodpigeon, lapwing, plover on and on). He occasionally returns to the wonderful language seen in the opening chapters, usually when he tangents onto a separate, more personal subject. There's one where he details the way animals fear humans and he describes humans as stinking of death; and another when he describes his encounter with a fox. But other than that, it just repeats, repeats, repeats. Reading those opening chapters got me very excited about what was to come but the following diary section was a rather dull and turgid experience. I got the impression it was one of those books that one reviewer loved, then another, then another, until eventually, it developed an unwarranted reputation for excellence based on the poetic beauty of those opening two chapters. The fact is, the diary stuff doesn't match up to that. None the less, I definitely embraced Baker's passion for the subject matter. And I recognised his obvious gift for language. I just wish he would have more eagerly applied it to the latter half of the book. Or perhaps some fiction. The diary section only came to life for me when he expressed his opinion rather than when he described the same identical actions and events over and over. I highly recommend the opening chapters. Some of the most beautiful prose I've ever come across. After that... it's very repetitive.
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