Tuesday, June 16, 2015

H is for Hawk

H is for Hawk
by Helen Macdonald
Grove Press, 2015. 300 pgs. Nonfiction.

Helen Macdonald is a well known author and naturalist from the U.K.  "H is for Hawk" recounts her response to the sudden death of her father.  Devastated, she decided to escape the world for a while and try her hand at training a goshawk.  Already an experienced falconer, Macdonald acquired Mabel and began the challenge of taming and training her to hunt.  She found advice and guidance by revisiting "The Goshawk" written by T.H. White.  White's experiences and struggles in both life and in the taming of his own goshawk, strangely mirror Macdonald's own restlessness and isolation.  She first loses herself completely to the project but then begins to emerge as she heals during this strange period of loss and grief.

I am pretty sure I've never read anything quite like this.  It's a unique blend of nature writing, historical literary review, and bereavement memoir.  Macdonald is very self-aware when it comes to her admitted obsession and slight madness during her time training Mabel and recounts her journey with a nice dose of humor and honesty.  I also enjoyed learning more about T.H. White's life and the writing of "The Once and Future King".  Really an enjoyable and distinctive literary experience.


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