The Fly Trap

The Fly Trap by Fredrik Sjoberg (Particular Books)

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!


Unknown said…
I read a bit of this when I stopped over at a friend's place and will finish it when he returns it to the library. I do not think I had gone far enough into the book to begin to enjoy it or otherwise. It was just setting out the ground for the first two or so chapters really.
bob smith said…
Tomas Transtromer nobe] literature prize winner is also worth a read especially his book Baltics which is a series of poems partly biographical-his grandfather was a ships pilot.

Bob Smith
Steve Gale said…
Andrew - certainly worth picking the book up again.
Bob - I will look into that.
Ali said…
Hovers are great. The hoverflies group on facebook is well worth looking at if you need a helping hand or want to share findings
Steve Gale said…
Thanks Ali, they certainly are tempting me...

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