How to Catch a Mole: Wisdom from a Life Lived in Nature
An ABA Indie Next Selection
"An extraordinary book; I've read no other like it. Thank goodness Marc Hamer stopped killing moles and sat down to write."
--Sy Montgomery, author of The Soul of an Octopus
At once a highly original memoir and an ode to the outdoors, this unexpected--and delightfully strange--book reveals, at its core, a rare vision of the natural world.
Kneeling in a muddy field, clutching something soft and blue-black, Marc Hamer vows he will stop trapping moles--forever. In this earnest, understated, and sublime work of nonfiction literature, the molecatcher shares what led him to this strange career: from sleeping among hedges as a homeless teen, to toiling on the railway, to weeding windswept gardens in Wales.
Hamer infuses his wanderings with radiant poetry and stark, simple observations on nature's oft-ignored details. He also reveals how to catch a mole--a craft long kept secret by its masters--and burrows into the unusual lives of his muses.
Moles, we learn, are colorblind. Their blood holds unusual amounts of carbon dioxide. Their vast tunnel networks are intricate and deceptive. And, like Hamer, they work alone.
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About the AuthorMarc Hamer was born in the North of England and moved to Wales more than thirty years ago. After spending a period homeless, then working on the railway, he returned to education and studied fine art. He has worked in art galleries, marketing, graphic design, as a magazine editor and taught creative writing in a prison before becoming a gardener and mole-catcher.
"This is an extraordinary book: part natural history, part memoir, part poetry--all entirely gorgeous. I've read no other book like this. Its beauty and heartbreak will stay with me for a long time. PS: the author stops killing moles, thank goodness."
--Sy Montgomery, New York Times bestselling author of How to Be a Good Creature and The Soul of an Octopus
"[Marc Hamer's] wonderful book, How to Catch a Mole, is a beautiful, elegiac ode to a remarkable creature. Each page is filled with wonder, love, regret, humility and a sense of wonder (and oneness) with nature."
"Informative and effortlessly readable... Ultimately a reflection on humanity's fraught but sustaining relationship with nature."
"How to Catch a Mole is a small book of many things. In quiet, crystalline prose, it blends memoir, keen observations of nature, and ruminations about life, aging and death."
--Wall Street Journal
"Welsh molecatcher, gardener--and debut author--does not disappoint. How to Catch a Mole soars on the plain-spoken yet eloquent observations of its author and incorporates poetry and philosophy."
"How to Catch a Mole is the best book I've read this decade. It will catch your breath and make your heart pound a little faster. It's beyond precious."
"This is a wonderful book about our relationship with the earth, with other animals and with our own troubled humanity. It has taught me a lot. I feel great love for it."
--Max Porter, author of Grief Is the Thing with Feathers
"It is rare to encounter such respect and understanding of nature."
--Rosamund Young, author of The Secret Life of Cows
"Marc Hamer's uplifting writings shed some light on the velvety creatures burrowing beneath our countryside."
--National Geographic Traveller
"A beguiling mixture: part autobiography, part handbook, part travel book, part philosophical treatise. I'm happy to report that it succeeds on each level."
"Marc tells his story and explores what moles, and a life in nature, can tell us about our own humanity and our search for contentment."
"A lovely little book. I read it through, then found myself going back and reading parts again."
--Lloyd Kahn, publisher and author of Tiny Homes: Simple Shelter
"Discovering Hamer's nature writing par excellence is a godsend."
--Foreword Reviews (Starred Review)
"Lessons learned from a life outdoors encourage the reader to dwell in the small, mostly ordinary but sometimes extraordinary, moments that make up an existence."
"The dreamy lyricism of How to Catch a Mole recalls the memoirs of Laurie Lee, another wanderer through the British countryside who affirmed that life's most vital moments often unfold in open spaces."
--Christian Science Monitor