H is for Hawk

Thoughts hifhbyhm H is for Hawk by Helen Macdonald, Random House Audio 2014, 11 hours 6 minutes

I’m already declaring this a TOP READ/LISTEN for 2015!

Anonymous Interviewer aka AI: Care, how did you come to read this?

Care: I saw a tweet announcing it as an Audible special for $2.99. Since, I knew I had only a few hours left of my current audiobook and lots of days left in the month to await my next credit, I jumped.

AI: Did you know anything about it? Had you read any good reviews?

Care: Excellent question because no, I didn’t really know much about it but yes, I do think I had read positive things? I DID know that the title fits the What’s in a Name Challenge for the animal category, so it has that going for it.

AI: I thought you were going to read Elegance of the Hedgehog for WiaN8.

Care: So did I, but it just kept getting passed over by my mood to read something else. I do hope to read Hedgehog someday but maybe not anytime soon, I guess.

AI: So what’s the Hawk book about?

Care: H is for Hawk is a fascinating overlapping memoir — and more! It is part nature book, falconry how-to book, grief exploration book and part biography of TH White, the author of The Once and Future King.

AI: So this is memoir?

Care: Yes, nonfiction. (I admit, I didn’t know this until after I started listening to the book.)

AI: Tell us about the author.

Care: Sure, and I first must say if I haven’t already, that the author does an EXCELLENT job narrating her own book.

AI: Is this unusual?

Care: What, that authors narrate their own books or that they actually do this successfully?

AI: Yea, that.

Care: I think Neil Gaiman is one author that does a great job and I have found that entertainers such as comedians always seem to do a very good job narrating their own books, but I can’t say that Donna Tartt pulled off a successful narration. (I did manage to listen all the way to the end of the 16 hour plus audio of The Secret History! YAY ME.)

Care: May I interrupt to give a NEVERWHERE READALONG SHOUT OUT? Nancy is doing a readalong if anyone has ever wanted to read this – I highly recommend the audiobook. My review is here.

AI: Do you have a button to share or maybe a hashtag for Twitter?

Care: As a matter of fact, I do know the hashtag #NeverwhereRAL, but I don’t know about a button. And if you click on the words a few sentences ago about the readalong shout out, you’ll open a window at Nancy’s blog…

AI: OK, tell us more about Helen Macdonald.

Care: Ms. Macdonald, a British naturalist writer, is a college professor who has also been interested in falconry since a very young age. There is also a terrific photo of Mabel on her blog (which may or may not be active; it looks like the events might be for 2014, a year done passed.)

AI: Um, Mabel? Who is Mabel?

Care: Mabel is her goshawk! Macdonald says in her book that if you give a goshawk a mild meek-sounding name, they usually turn out to be terrific hunters! (and vice versa.) Here’s a photo of another goshawk that I found on the internet:

goshawk <– Sindbad the Goshawk, photo credit to The International Falconry Forum

AI: To be totally honest, this book sounds not only boring but slightly depressing, even with a lovely named bird like Mabel.

Care: And you would be wrong. This book is delightful. It has ALL the feelings. Sure, it is about how she went through the stages of grief after losing her father but it also has many funny almost comic moments – also, angry and frightening. Her writing is beautiful, provocative. She is known as a naturalist writer for good reason. She is just an excellent writer! She is smart, she is tender, she is strong, she is brave and she shares every bit of it with eloquence.

And you learn about so much stuff that you didn’t even know you wanted to know about. THAT is a great book.Helen Macdonald

AI: Care to share a quote or two?


“And I found there were myriad definitions of this thing called tragedy that had wormed its way through the history of literature; and the simplest of all was this: that it is the story of a figure who, through some moral flaw or personal failing, falls through force of circumstance to his doom.”

AI: I have nothing else to ask, maybe your readers will have more questions. This concludes this audiobook review presentation interrogation. Thank you.

Care: Thank YOU.


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31 thoughts on “H is for Hawk

    1. Yea? I am not sure why this is hilarious. I was following Nancy’s interview style she uses occasionally. It is helpful when a review refuses to type itself.

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  2. aartichapati

    Ooh, I have never heard of this book or the author but I’ll give it a whirl. Especially on audio, if I can find it!

  3. Emily @ Books, the Universe & Everything

    I love this post for two big reasons:

    1. I’m so glad to hear that you enjoyed H is for Hawk so much! I loved it too, and l love seeing others feel the same. I read it in print, but then bought the audiobook too when it went on sale. Someday I’ll treat myself to a re-read of it via the audiobook – it sounds so lovely.

    2. I love the format of this post / review – it’s so fun! 🙂

  4. It took me a minute to realize you were doing a “self-interview”. Isn’t it amazing how well that helps you get down your thoughts when the usual writing just doesn’t click? Loved yours!

    I’ve seen a lot of gushy love for H is for Hawk but just sound-bites. I didn’t fully realize what it’s about. I’ll have to add it to the never-ending wish list. And, I need to give The Once and Future King a second go, but even my chunkster-loving son burned out on that one. It’s such a beautifully written, funny, vivid book but the detail can wear you down.

    Thanks for the shout-out! I didn’t even think about a button, duh. I’ve only participated in one read along and I’m such a lax blogger that I opted to keep it super casual but a button would have been a nice touch. Perhaps for future read alongs. I’m thinking maybe a read along of My Brilliant Friend by Elena Ferrante would be a good idea.

  5. This book has been getting so much buzz I was not interested because I thought it was just the publicity machine, but I think you have finally convinced me it is legit and I am going to have to read it sometime.

    1. The truth? It caught my eye because of the H and I don’t think I really studied any reviews, so I missed most of the buzz. I’m not much of a buzz follower.

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