Wednesday, 19 September 2018

"H is for Hawk" by Helen Macdonald - August 2018

Members found this autobiographical work quite difficult to read, but it seemed appropriate, since it reflected a personality going through a mentally difficult time. The writing, and the characters that appear, felt disjointed. Some people didn't feel sympathy for what she was going through, so it was difficult to establish sympathy for the author herself, and made it quite hard to enjoy the book. Also, because the author was using her hawk to hunt, and got into the hunting process, made it harder to enjoy or commiserate with her. However, other group members were able to feel for the author's loss (the book is about her dealing with the sudden death of her father) and felt for her sinking into depression. It was lovely that she had learned patience from her father when bird-watching, for example. But it was difficult to follow the time scale of the book, no dates were mentioned, which corresponded with her state of grief and the feeling that her identity was dissolving after her loss. The hawk gave her back a focus to hold on to. The violence of hunting, and her use of hunting practices that were controversial, made it hard to fully be on her side, though, as it had too many aspects of cruelty.

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