Wednesday, December 21, 2016

The Owl Who Liked Sitting on Caesar by Martin Windrow

The Owl Who Liked Sitting on Caesar: Living with a Tawny Owl (2014) by Martin Windrow was a sweet book about an rather unusual (though at the same time so stereotypically British) relationship between a man and his owl.

It was truly fascinating to read about the habits of owls and how they did (and, in many ways did not) fit in with human habitation. Windrow made abundantly clear that he respected that owls, even owls that have been hatched and raised by humans, are still wild animals. In most cases, by adjusting his own habits and expectations to fit in with living with the owl rather than expecting the owl to do so. In short, he was never under the illusion that he could fully domesticate her to live as a pet but rather worked very hard to make co-habitation work.

While I loved the relationship between Martin and Mumble, he also very effectively dissuaded me from ever wanting to live with an owl myself -- issues with excrement alone would be a deal-breaker!

I won't spoil the ending by commenting on that, but at the end I was very glad to have read this short, interesting, funny book.

Perched on the back of a sunlit chair was something about 9 inches tall and shaped rather like a plump toy penguin with a nose-job. It appeared to be wearing a one-piece knitted jumpsuit of pale grey fluff with brown stitching, complete with an attached balaclava helmet. From the face-hole of the fuzzy balaclava, two big, shiny black eyes gazed up at me trustfully. 'Kweep', it said quietly. Enchanted, I leaned closer. It blinked its furry grey eyelids, then jumped very deliberately up on to my right shoulder. It felt like a big, warm dandelion head against my cheek, and it smelt like a milky new kitten. 'Kweep', it repeated, very softly.
Love at first sight – when it hits you late, it hits hard. It hit me at thirty-four, and I was a slave to it for the next fifteen years.

Keep reading! Beth

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Falling From Horses by Molly Gloss

Falling From Horses (2014) by Molly Gloss is a somewhat sad, disturbing story about Hollywood cowboy films in the 30s in which not very much good happens to any of the characters. Written as a memoir of someone well-known, who interacted with other well-known people -- even though (as far as I know) it's all fictional and none of the characters in the book are real (aside from a couple of real actors from the time who are mentioned only in passing and by name only) -- the structure of the story made it an interesting read, and made up slightly for the fact that there was more telling than showing in the prose.

The story jumped back and forth between different time periods, and I liked that the 'present' of the story (still a flashback) was told in the first person and the further back flashbacks in third person, which made it slightly easier to keep track of the jumps.

Though overall I think this was a good book that was worth reading, I will note that it is definitely NOT for anyone who gets upset about descriptions of animals being mistreated. I really appreciated that the story didn't gloss over the realities of the way animals were treated in the film industry before protective legislation was passed, but I still found many scenes very tough to read.

The subject matter was certainly a time and place I have not read much about before, and the beauty of stories such as this is that they transport us into their unfamiliar environments, good or bad.

Keep reading! Beth