H Is for Hawk (Prebound)
Words like "exquisite," "perfect," and "masterpiece" have already been heaped on Helen MacDonald's debut blend of memoir, nature-writing, and biography. While I'm usually resistant to such descriptions, I find myself regularly using them when talking about H is For Hawk.
By her account, MacDonald lost more than a father when he died suddenly of a heart attack. She lost her tether -- to her world as a whole, as an aspiring academic at Cambridge; but more frighteningly still, to herself. With life in something of a free-fall MacDonald sought solace from a perhaps unlikely source, a bird of prey like none other: the English goshawk. Though no novice to falconry, the sheer violence and size of the goshawk is new to MacDonald . . . and, we find, appropriate to the enormity of her deepening depression.
There is a talismanic quality to this sort of writing that makes it as difficult to forget (or stop talking about!) as it is to put down. Her prose mimicking the manner of Mabel, her hawk -- expansive like a set of wings (soaring unexpectedly into a biography of T. H. White, the famed author of The Once and Future King, but known best to MacDonald for his earlier book, The Goshawk), its talons holding the reader in place, instinctively wary of everything it cannot consume -- MacDonald has crafted something truly special. H is For Hawk will appeal specifically to readers seeking a dose of depth and poetry to their reading; but more generally, too, to we who have lost someone, or who have felt ourselves at a loss for something unspeakably and identifiably ours, and are perhaps looking above and below still.
March '15 Indie Next List
“This is a superbly crafted memoir, incredibly original in its depth and visceral impact. The author swings back and forth between her own desire to train a goshawk and her research of that same need documented by T.H. White. Self-deprecating humor vies with wonder and grief as Macdonald manages to make the reader see, hear, and feel every aspect of this incredible journey. A marvelous read.”
— Karen Frank, Northshire Bookstore, Manchester Center, VT
One of the "New York Times Book Review"'s 10 Best Books of the Year
ON MORE THAN 25 BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR LISTS: including "TIME" (#1 Nonfiction Book), NPR, "O, The Oprah Magazine" (10 Favorite Books), "Vogue" (Top 10), "Vanity Fair, Washington Post, Boston Globe, Chicago Tribune, Seattle Times, San Francisco Chronicle" (Top 10), "Miami Herald, St. Louis Post Dispatch, Minneapolis Star Tribune" (Top 10), "Library Journal" (Top 10), "Publishers Weekly, Kirkus Reviews, " Slate, Shelf Awareness, Book Riot, Amazon (Top 20)
The instant "New York Times" bestseller and award-winning sensation, Helen Macdonald's story of adopting and raising one of nature's most vicious predators has soared into the hearts of millions of readers worldwide. Fierce and feral, her goshawk Mabel's temperament mirrors Helen's own state of grief after her father's death, and together raptor and human "discover the pain and beauty of being alive" ("People"). "H Is for Hawk" is a genre-defying debut from one of our most unique and transcendent voices.
About the Author
Helen Macdonald is a writer, poet, illustrator, historian, and naturalist who lives in Cambridge, England. She is also the author of the poetry collection "Shaler s Fish." Twitter: @HelenJMacdonald"