Things That Are: Encounters with Plants, Stars and Animals Hardcover – 6 Jun 2013
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"This book is a thing of wonder. Amy Leach has found delight in the details of the world, and taken exuberant pleasure in putting that delight into the most unexpected words. Each paragraph carries phrases to underline and read aloud; each page offers another way of seeing the world anew. A sheer delight" (Jon McGregor)
"Like a descendant of Lewis Carroll and Emily Dickinson, Amy Leach brings new meaning to the world without us, and within. A reader entering this book to learn more about the universe will exit knowing much more about her own self. At once large and intimate, [Things That Are] introduces one of the most exciting and original writers in America" (Yiyun Li, author of Gold Boy, Emerald Girl and The Vagrants)
"Things That Are is a joy. Every sentence is a surprise, bursting open like little pop-rocks" (Brian Eno)
"The 26 pieces here are short, pithy, and packed with information delivered in poetic but precise language. It is rich fare. Don't read too much in one sitting. These are the gold flakes you scatter on the rice dish of your everyday reading" (Julian Gough Guardian)
"No amount of viewings of Planet Earth will prepare you for Leach's vision or her style, her tumultuous, incantatory rejoicing in the astonishing multiplicity of the Earth... Buy this book for everyone you know" (Olivia Laing Observer)
"It's impossible not to be charmed by the way she finds the magical in the prosaic - but never loses sight of the science" (Metro)
"Leach teases the written word like an elastic band, stretching time and belief and meaning... it's impossible to feel indifferent to her hymn-like prose that is reminiscent of a young Jeanette Winterson... you can't help but feel you've plunged down the rabbit hole with her in this unique book" (Stylist)
"This slim book from the American essayist Amy Leach is a rarity" (Financial Times)
"Leach's prose tumbles and cascades, sweeping the reader along" (We Love This Book)
"Of all the wondrous things that are catalogued in this brave little book, the most wondrously fresh and novel may be the uncanny Ms. Leach's own gamin-sly, rhythm-rhymey voice, and oh that flint-flighty, rapt-capacious mind of hers. Besides which, no one conjures a presenter present tense than she. Sheer scrambling delight" (Lawrence Weschler, author of Mr Wilson's Cabinet of Wonder)
"The living world has a new and sprightly champion. Leach is ecstatic in her knowledgeable, resplendent, and exhilarating contemplations of everything from subatomic particles to dust, Spinoza, donkeys, and caterpillars" (Booklist)
"Lyrical and strange, this engaging book is filled with short tales whose most perfect sentences stay with you, especially in your dreams" (Huffington Post)
"Award-winning US writer Leach aims to rekindle our communion with the world in this bijou of a debut... her voice and vision are utterly enchanting" (Caroline Sanderson Non-Fiction Book of the Month, The Bookseller)
"Infernally addictive" (David Abram author of Becoming Animal)
"I know of no other writer on earth-or in the sky-like Amy Leach. One of the pleasures of Things That Are is the surprise of finding, among the mouldywarps and whimwhams and leguminous exoplanets of our galaxy, truths about ourselves-unearthed and unaired" (Eula Biss author of Notes from No Man's Land)
"Things That Are possesses the whimsical wordplay and wonder of a Victorian fairytale... sparkling. Every sentence is as pure and fanciful as frost patterns on a window pane... should be read aloud, tasted, and savored... Succumb to her world for a few hours and your heart will be the lighter for it" (Rumpus)
"Stunning... fanciful and erudite... electrically poetic... startlingly original" (Minneapolis Star Tribune)
A highly original and irresistible debut that begins with swimming salmon and ends with the starry sky, celebrating the universe in all its wondrous glorySee all Product Description
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Top Customer Reviews
Whilst you will more than likely learn a few things, it's not exactly a scientific study, more an enthusiastic and curious mind's thoughts on what's out there; what we may ignore, or simply not see without going out and taking a moment to appreciate the world. It made me think about a lot of things in entirely new ways.
It's delightful reading, and I noticed myself smiling and chuckling to myself on the odd passage.
Highly recommended for the curious people out there, or anyone wanting an easy yet enlightening non-fiction read.
Unfortunately for me, the sum was a lot less than the author's parts. This all rather struck me as whimsy for whimsy's sake. Whimsy as a world crops up a lot in other reviews of this book, for many obvious reasons. Take the example sentence: 'translucent yellow fruit and turquoise bird wings and emerald dew-drippy leaves...'. I'm sure lots of readers think this is charming and twee, but for me she might as well be talking about pixies skipping through glades sprinkling magic dust on bunny rabbits. I hate whimsy, particularly when it comes to natural history writing.
Or the term 'They-of-the-incisors' for beavers.... Call it a beaver if its a beaver. Or it's Latin name at a push, but stop with the cartoon cliches please. Nature is red in tooth and claw. I'm not asking for a full on bloodbath when reading about the animal kingdom, but something above fairy tales for adults would have been more appreciated.
Each chapter is too short to go anywhere significant yet so packed with confusing and babyish metaphor as to be indecipherable. Why use 'orange petals' when you can pointlessly pad it out to 'orange flicker-flame petals' eh?
I took to throwing the book across the room in frustration. No way is this going on my bookshelf next to Thoreau, Muir, Mabey.