Animals don't exist in order to teach us things, but that is what they have always done, and most of what they teach us is what we think we know about ourselves.
In Vesper Flights Helen Macdonald brings together a collection...Read More
In Vesper Flights Helen Macdonald brings together a collection of her best loved essays, along with new pieces on topics ranging from nostalgia for a vanishing countryside to the tribulations of farming ostriches to her own private vespers while trying to fall asleep.
Meditating on notions of captivity and freedom, immigration and flight, Helen invites us into her most intimate experiences: observing the massive migration of songbirds from the top of the Empire State Building, watching tens of thousands of cranes in Hungary, seeking the last golden orioles in Suffolk's poplar forests. She writes with heart-tugging clarity about wild boar, swifts, mushroom hunting, migraines, the strangeness of birds' nests, and the unexpected guidance and comfort we find when watching wildlife.
By one of this century's most important and insightful nature writers, Vesper Flights is a captivating and foundational book about observation, fascination, time, memory, love and loss and how we make sense of the world around us.
Helen Macdonald is a writer, poet, illustrator, historian, and naturalist who lives in Cambridge, England.
"Macdonald experiments with tempo and style, as if testing out different altitudes and finding she can fly at just about any speed, in any direction, with any aim she likes, so supple is her style. She writes about migration patterns and storms, nests as a metaphor for the domestic and the danger of using nature as metaphor at all. I was reminded of the goshawk, so thickly plumed, so powerful that it can bring down a deer, and yet it weighs only a few pounds. These are the very paradoxes of Macdonald's prose -- its lightness and force." - Parul Sehgal, New York Times
"Vesper Flights is a book of tremendous purpose. Throughout these essays, Macdonald revisits the idea that as a writer it is her responsibility to take stock of what's happening to the natural world and to convey the value of the living things within it." - Washington Post
"If you're looking to see the natural world through someone else's eyes, you'd be hard-pressed to find a better set than those of Helen Macdonald...[Her] writing is miraculously light and substantive at the same time, and her prose is so beautiful, my review copy was hopelessly dog-eared. What makes her such a great observer is her humility and willingness to crack herself open with awe." - San Francisco Chronicle
"MacDonald's writing captures the inexpressible rhythm of being... [Her] essays are, if anything, murmurations for our ominous time - dark yet flashing, stirred from the core." - USA Today
"[E]xhilarating... No one describes the everyday natural world with greater power or beauty." - Slate
"Dazzling... Ms. Macdonald reminds us how marvelously unfamiliar much of the nonhuman world remains to us, even as we continue to diminish it." --Wall Street Journal
"For many this year, the great outdoors has been the great beyond, rendering it impossible to feel at one with nature. For this reason, Vesper Flights is essential reading right now. But it is also a book to relish at any time, both for its intelligence and grace, and its ability to edify and enchant in equal measure." - Minneapolis Star-Tribune
"[An] altogether memorable collection . . . Exemplary writing about the intersection of the animal and human worlds." - Kirkus Reviews
"An inviting collection... infused with wonder, nostalgia, and melancholy." - Publishers Weekly
"Gorgeously composed, complexly affecting, and stunningly revelatory." - Booklist
"An essential writer on nature, humanity, and loss. Macdonald fills her narratives with vivid descriptions of the wildlife that surrounds us." - TIME