Friday, 16 January 2015
The Fly Trap
This is a gem of a book.
The author lived on, and studied, the hoverflies that occurred on the Swedish island of Runmaro. Although the theme of the book deals with his obsessional entomological studies, it is but a small part of what is a most engrossing and surprising read.
Written 10 years ago, the book has only just been translated into English. His precise writing style, superb turn of phrase and restrained dry humour make it a delight from beginning to end. You are lead away from the core subject on almost every page - from a potted history of the great Swedish naturalist/explorers (particularly Rene Malaise), the nature of collecting, the speed (or lack of it) of life, how to tackle the public, why we form imaginary islands in pursuit of our goals, the reading of the landscape - plus the small little subject of life itself. It is a book of many facets, all that I found entrancing. On more than one occasion I found myself identifying heavily with his observations on why 'we' do such things, like standing alone in a meadow for hours on end whilst 'normal' people zip around on the periphery getting on with 'real' life. I have now been inspired into getting my hoverfly books off of the shelf with an aim to look more closely at these creatures this coming season. In fact, a bit of mild weather will see a very few on the wing right now.
There is a review on the back cover from one Tomas Transtromer that reads: "I often return to The Fly Trap, it remains close to my heart. The minute observations from nature that reveal sudden insights into one's life. Sometimes I almost think that he wrote it for me." I couldn't put it any better than that...
I must thank Pete Burness for alerting me to this book. Great call Pete!