Book Reviews / by Deborah Clague

M Train
Written by Patti Smith

I bought this book after hearing it was about loss and consolation. The book does touch on these subjects in a somewhat non-linear way, leading the reader through a narrative that, at times, felt like a dreamscape of random sequences. While it may not have been as direct as I had hoped, 'M Train' did evoke the inescapable desire to wander (physically and mentally) that is felt after the death of a loved one. From a purely aesthetic point of view, I loved the paper used in the book and appreciated the design notes at the back pertaining to its construction. Nothing can replicate the tactile quality of a greatly crafted piece. 

Favourite line: "It's not so easy writing about nothing."


H is for Hawk
Written by Helen Macdonald

This book is also about loss but the subject is secondary to an appreciation of nature and all its wild majesty explored through the relationship between author and 'Mabel', a hawk she aims to tame through the art of falconry. Like 'M Train', I felt the narrative of this book was dense on detail and nuance to the point where it detracted from the content. I am in the minority though; this book was on numerous "best of" lists for the annum 2015. 

Favorite line: "Memory and love and magic. What happened over the years of my expeditions as a child was a slow transformation of my landscape over time into what naturalists call a local patch, glowing with memory and meaning."