3 journalers for this copy...
Blurb on the back cover from Jim Lynch (author of Border Songs - a wonderful book too!):
"*Fauna* is the sort of rare novel that can change the way you see your world."
Thank you Tracey & Random House!
*Fauna* has not changed the way I see my world but it has reaffirmed for me the way I see my, or rather "our", world in the same way that some of my other much loved novels (Margaret Atwood's *Surfacing* and Barbara Kingsolver's *Prodigal Summer*) have done. As such I am very fond of this book.
There were some minor flaws, in particular an over-abundance of characters, both human and animal, but I easily forgive any flaws to the point that this book is sure to rank among my all time favourite books as above-mentioned and another non-fiction book, *Grass, Sky, Song* by Trevor Herriot.
I've never been to Toronto so do not know the Don Valley, but I do live in a city where peregrine falcons nest in the cliffs of city office towers, hunting pigeons in the air to feed their young, sometimes breaking their necks in a misjudged dive to the pavement below or splatting under the wheels of a bus. A city where raccoons and deer and rabbits feast on the salad bowl that is my garden and sometimes end up as bloody masses lining my street after losing on the collision course with my neighbour's SUV. And, of course, I live in a city where people talk not to their neighbours across the street but to people a world away on the internet while children are being wrenched from their beds by Child and Family Services as their parents are drinking and brawling, sometimes ending up as bloody masses lining the very streets under which those peregrines nest.
I loved York's characters, all damaged misfits in their own way and wary of each other, but all, with the exception of Darius, respectful and caring of the animals that inhabit their world. It is that connection that allows them to connect with each other. Darius, on the other hand, represents the nastiness of humans toward the animals (although even his "evilness" is not really innate but, presumably, a result of his own unfortunate background).
I also loved how York's characters loved other classic "fauna" books - The Jungle Book, Watership Down, Wild Animals I have Known, White Fang, The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe and others.
All in all a thoughtful, respectful and quite satisfying read.
WILD RELEASE NOTES:
The inhabitants of this book don't suffer from nature deficit disorder. The first one we meet is Edal. She is a federal wildlife officer currently on leave because she lost it one day when yet another traveller tried to smuggle exotic pets back, killing most of them in the process. Edal is out for a bike ride in the downtown canyons of Toronto when she sees a young girl with a big Newfoundland dog searching for birds that have smashed into the office towers. Lily is homeless and lives in a tent in the Don Valley with her dog, Billy. Lily is spooked by Edal's presence and hops on her bike to hightail it to Howell Auto Wreckers. Edal has followed her and watches for a while from outside the gate until she is invited in. Guy is the owner and he helps Lily with the birds she rescues. When they have died from their encounter with the glass expanse Guy and Lily bury them in the abandoned garden on the grounds. Guy has rescued a red tail hawk which he is nursing back to fighting form. Stephen is the one employee of Howell's. He fought in Afghanistan but was invalided out after succumbing to a nasty virus. He travels the Don Valley often and on one occasion saw a raccoon scramble down a tree and across the road where she was hit by a vehicle. Stephen went to pick the body up for a decent burial and realized she was a nursing mother. Stephen and Guy rescued the young kits from the tree hollow where there mother had left them and Stephen is nursing them until they can be freed. Kate is a veterinary technician who rehabilitates dogs with gait problems. Kate runs across LIly and Billy on one of her runs in the Don Valley and Lily, uncharacteristically, invites her to come to Howell's some night. This unlikely group of friends come together out of their concern for animals but remain together for friendship, food and literature.
The one exception to the nature loving that goes on in this book is Darius. We are first introduced to him through his blog which he has advertised by putting up posters in the Don Valley. He calls himself coyotecop and he is determined to wipe out all the coyotes in Toronto. Stephen saw the posters, tore them down but checked out the blog and was horrified by what he found there. He tries to use reason and facts to counter what Darius is saying but as the days go on Darius escalates from talking to doing.
Throughout the book we learn the back stories of most of the characters. As might be expected Darius comes from an abusive household. He grew up in the mountains of BC and he learned about animals from his grandfather, a hunter and thoroughly nasty man. We never do learn much about Lily but we know that she fled from home with Billy so it could not have been a good situation. Both of these young people have been damaged by their home environment but Lily has retained some humanity and as she becomes part of the community that revolves around Howell's she starts to heal. Darius remains a loner.
This was a very powerful book. Annabel Lyon, author of The Golden Mean is quoted on the front cover as follows: "Rich and strange and deeply satisfying." I concur.
I'll take this to the next Winnipeg BookCrossing meetup and find a new reader for it.
WILD RELEASE NOTES:
It is waiting there for a new reader to take home, read, and release back into the wild!
Winnipeg bookcrossers meet at my location on the second Wednesday of every month at 7pm to chat about books, swap great reads, and release on the OBCZ shelves. Please join us! We love to see new faces! You will enjoy the comfy atmosphere, the fabulous coffees and teas, and the yummy treats!