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H is for Hawk: 11/06/22

H is for Hawk

H is for Hawk by Helen Macdonald is a memoir about grief and falconry. Specially it's about goshawks. Ultimately it's about a goshawk named Mabel. But — I didn't get that far.

The memoir opens on a beautifully described scene of birding in a woodland north of Cambridge. She describes the journey there, the walk through the woods. She focuses on the various mosses and so forth. Then a goshawk flies overhead, a rare site.

Her trip ends with learning that her father died suddenly while on a photoshoot in London. The remainder of the chapter is Macdonald's grief and her thoughts on the word and the awful mundanity of carrying on after a loved one dies. She talks about having to track down her father's car and finding it in an impound and then explaining why he had abandoned it.

And then the book gets mired in Macdonald's memories of how she got interested in falconry and specifically goshawks. She explains the history of the birds and how falconry saved them from extinction in the wild. It should be interesting — I like birds, I paint birds. But —

In 1951 T.H. White wrote a book a book about goshawks, called, of course, The Goshawk. The book, while not a popular one from the author best known for The Once and Future King (1938), made a huge impression on MacDonald. H is for Hawk settles into being a very boring and very wordy book report on White's book.

It took me three days to get to page 34. So here I am admitting defeat.

One star

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