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The Oak Papers de James Canton
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The Oak Papers (edició 2021)

de James Canton (Autor)

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472460,639 (3.44)1
"In the tradition of The Hidden Life of Trees and H is for Hawk, a memoir-meets-homage to an oak tree that meditates on the mysteries of nature and the healing role it plays in our lives"--
Membre:AllanMGagnon
Títol:The Oak Papers
Autors:James Canton (Autor)
Informació:HarperOne (2021), 256 pages
Col·leccions:La teva biblioteca
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The Oak Papers de James Canton

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A little touchy-feelie for my taste, but lots of interesting scholarship. ( )
  unclebob53703 | Jun 27, 2021 |
The Oak Papers is a diary written in the present tense. James Canton sets out to fall in love with the great old oaks of England, and he succeeds. It is an ode to oaks.

The main focus of his attention is the Honywood Oak. He doesn’t locate it for readers, but it is on an estate northeast of London, two-thirds of the way to Ipswich. There are other famous oaks in the region, notably the Screaming Oak, which has three huge holes that could have come from The Scream by Edvard Munch.

The book is melding of observation and references. Canton teaches descriptive writing of the wild, “the ties between literature, landscape and the environment,” and he freely associates his every sighting and feeling throughout the book. From the whorls of the bark to the insects in the air, birds, bats, the weather and the emotions he feels, the book is a prose poem to oaks.

There are references and quotes of poems and poets, as well as some history of what the oaks have “witnessed” in their time. The Honywood Oak is 800 years old, but there are many over a thousand.

For those who have not had the pleasure, English oaks can live for several thousand years. They become official landmarks. Their boughs can be incredibly long and gnarly. Their trunks, which can be 30 feet around, can hollow out, and people can enter them, literally standing inside the tree. It is not only amazing that they can be this old, but that they can survive at all in such a condition. Yet they thrive, given half a chance. It is the magic of English trees and forests that has led to so many great tales and literature. Trees are an inspiration, just by being there.

Canton discovers, as readers will quickly surmise, that the oaks, and the Honywood Oak in particular, have become his obsession and first love. He admits his human spouse and he are breaking up, and his notably many visits to the tree are good indicator that things are better there than at home. There is peace and quiet at the foot of the oak.

The book suffers from far too few images. What little there are are chapter openers, drawings of acorns, oak leaves and anonymous trees, when photos would have been breathtaking. Especially since he spends so much time describing named trees.
Most of the tree books I have reviewed over the past couple of decades are less focused and more varied. This one is locked on English Oaks, but it does not break any new ground. Canton does (barely) mention the new science of neurobiology, in which scientists are determining how trees communicate within themselves and with other trees. This book does not seek to be authoritative, comprehensive, or even a useful reference. It is a collection of diary entries from Canton’s endless visits over a couple of years. As such, while it is quite lyrical, it is quite flat, and not very useful.

David Wineberg ( )
  DavidWineberg | Oct 25, 2020 |
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