The Peregrine by J.A. Baker

Turns out the version I purchased of  The Peregrine also contains another writing, ‘Hills of Summer’, so I was much nearer to the end than I thought in my previous post. I’m now finished, and it ends just as it began, with prose of the highest order.

This is the kind of book that can only really be appreciated by someone who is a writer, or someone who reads a LOT, or someone who is a fanatic about nature. Fortunately for me, I am 2.5 of those, so I enjoyed it immensely.

There is barely a plot, so be forewarned. This is, on the surface, a series of journal entries written by someone who is watching hawks(peregrines). Every few days, a journal entry of what he saw that day, focusing on the hawks.

But there is a sort of arc to it. Each entry, the writer gets more and more obsessed with the hawks, and starts to imagine that they are accepting him as one of their own. He writes increasing asides about how humans suck (in prettier words) and the hawks are glorious and amazing. The end of the book is a clear end and is great when you look at the whole thing in context.

But, for someone looking for an actual story with plot and tension and conflict and enemies and goodguys, you’re not going to get that.

What you will get is prose that is so delicious and rich and new and perfect that you’ll be highlighting every other line. And you’ll get birds and nature up to your eyes and beyond, you’ll get imagery so lush you’ll drown in it in the most wonderful way.

If you’re a writer, you’ll appreciate the skill. If you’re a reader of many things you’ll appreciate the newness (maybe) and if you love nature, it will make you feel like you’re out in it.

Give it a shot!

Exploring

Writing a story based in a city I’ve never been in is interesting, and fun. I wonder how writers did it before the age of the internet. I can drop down into the streets and virtually walk them to get a feel for the city. I can look up bars and restaurants and read reviews and see pictures. Some even have virtual tours.

I have a feeling writers of the past had to be much more social than I do. They probably had to seek out people who’d been there and have conversations with them, pull out details, encourage descriptions of smells and sounds and ambiance.

Sounds like a lot of trouble!

Great humor

I’ve started listening to Great Expectations   and am finding it very entertaining. He is quite adept at painting his characters in very memorable and overblown ways, while still keeping them from being caricatures or ridiculous. I’ve been laughing out loud a lot with this one so far.

I wonder why all these classic novels have such boring covers that look like old paintings you’d find in a museum. It really doesn’t do much to give an impression of what’s inside the book at all. Maybe more people would read classics if they got updated covers and dust jacket descriptions…

Social media

I don’t do much writing related stuff there… but I probably should start. Make contacts, post things, get support and friends and so on. My author page on facebook has been pretty much just links to posts from this blog, but, I must start to do more with it! I want this to be my job after all…

Here is a link to it, Like to see new writerly things from me!

https://www.facebook.com/thejonasdavid

Submitting again

I submitted that story I wrote on Thursday, to Fireside fiction. I fixed it up some and got a bit of feedback, but there isn’t much time as they are only open for submissions for a week at a time here and there. Excited to hear back from them! I have a good feeling about it.

It feels good to be submitting stories again, even if just here and there. I also sent an old story I rewrote to a couple places and have been rejected, but it still feels good to get back into it. Write, submit, repeat, get back to it!

Notice things

I find that I often am oblivious to things right next to me. I spend way to much time in my head, thinking about anything other than what I’m doing and where I am in the moment.

Lately I’ve been making a conscious effort to notice the things around me. What objects are near me? What are they for? What people or smells? How would I describe them?

It’s startling how many things I see, and think to myself ‘I’d never have known that existed, if I didn’t try specifically to look at the things around me.’ That’s how much of a head-in-the-clouds kind of person I am…

Repulsive beings

I’m still reading The Talented Mr. Ripley and the character, Tom, has now murdered someone and is in the process of taking over their life.

The descriptions of him trying on the persons clothes, shoes, jewelry, is somehow disgusting. I don’t know what it is in the writing that gave me this uneasy feeling of disgust toward Tom, he seemed a repulsive, slimy thing slipping into a nice persons skin. In the same scene, not only is he trying on the clothes, but he is ‘trying on’ the dead man’s personality, so to speak, practicing impersonating him. Finding that he likes this person more than himself. Something about the whole thing just gave me an unclean, gross feeling even though the author didn’t use any overtly gross words. It was a very memorable and impressive scene. I may have to read it over again to try to pinpoint what exactly it was that gave me that feeling.