I'm finally nearing the end of The Peregrine, by J.A. Baker. I picked it up after reading Warner Hertzog praise it on a Reddit AMA. An intense book about falcons. I could picture his gravely, accented English languorously describing dark talons and feathers.
How delightful, I began reading.
Yes, lots of talons and feathers here. Each sentence is a real spurting climax of enthusiastic nature poetry. Let's see, there are about 12 sentences per page. There are 191 pages in this book. That leaves the reader, sent up into Baker's blood red verbal sky, more than 2000 sentences to devour. Or - oh no! - to be devoured by.
The project began friendly enough. But as the thing went on, I began to feel nauseated. Plover. So much plover... Who knew there were so many ways to describe a passing cloud, or a country road, or the white bones sticking up out of a carcass? No plot. No knowledge (save for a few teasing sprinkles in the first few pages). No character development. No insight. No reflection. Just words.
An endless, relentless torrent of damned words. No shape, color, texture or anthropomorphic emotion was safe from Baker's incessant adjectival assault. His metaphorical meandering bent a supposed natural world into a craggy mass of verbal gymnastics that resembled not so much the relationship of birds to limb and sky but Baker’s own solipsistic ambition. The grand irony: a book so completely and utterly about nature that it becomes about nothing more than man.
I began to suspect the book was an act of terrorism: a bomb carefully designed to ensnare the poor human unlucky enough to be attracted to it's promise of beauty, yet it's real purpose to take the words of man and stuff them into his greedy, fallen throat. Take that yee vile polluter. Choke on this ugly human scum. Read my book. Read it!