Monday, November 30, 2009

Book Review: The Bedside Book of Beasts

I was thrilled to discover that Graeme Gibson has published a companion piece to his highly successful The Bedside Book of Birds, which I adored. The Bedside Book of Beasts is a strikingly beautiful miscellany of art, fable, poetry, science and short stories that explores the fascinating connection between predator and prey, the hunter and the hunted.

The writings cross cultures and ages to illustrate the complexity of relationship between predator and prey and how the demands of hunger have shaped life on earth. The illustrations are marvellous and compliment the narrative. The stories are moving and revealing. The highlights are often Gibson’s short introductions to the chapters.

The underlying idea explored in the book is how human technology, from our first attempts at chipping tools from stone to space travel, has “estranged us” from the natural world. As we become even more dependent on this technology for our survival we are increasingly vulnerable. Yet, we still harbour a deep primordial memory of life more in balance with our natural surroundings.

Gibson states that he hopes that we can rediscover and reconnect with nature “and in doing so learn to honour our ancient and longstanding debt to life on earth”. With this wonderful book, Gibson has brought us one step closer to that hope.

Find out more about the book online at http://www.bedsidebookofbeasts.com/.

Book jacket and polar bear images from the collection of Graeme Gibson.

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