Wednesday, April 2, 2008

In search of nature novels.

Tree peony, backlit and cringing in the cold, unrelated to this post.

A question:

Can anyone out there in the...anywhere, think of a recent novel, say, published in the last decade or so, in which natural history is a major component, and is accurately portrayed?

It seems that there are novels (and short stories), and there is nature writing, and rarely the twain shall meet, unless it's Mark Twain writing Huckleberry Finn or about the jumping frog of Calaveras County. Not particularly recent.

Thank you for pondering this, and I'm sorry for not having a picture of a huckleberry.


Camera Trap Codger said...

There are some zoology novels, like Wm Boyd's Brazzaville Beach, and Jurassic Park, but I think this may not be what you are looking for.

BerryBird said...

I have a couple of suggestions for you, Hugh. The Highest Tide by Jim Lynch is a coming of age story about a teenage boy who lives on the Puget Sound. He is an insomniac obsessed with Rachel Carson, and prowls the tide flats at night. Another "tide" novel, The Hungry Tide by Amitov Ghosh is about an Indian-American research biologist who travels to the Sundarbans to study river dolphins.

You also might check out T.C. Boyle, he has several novels in which nature is quite prominently featured, A Friend of the Earth, The Tortilla Curtain, Drop City. Possibly more, too, those are just the ones I've read. Each is ostensibly about something else, but he writes beautifully and accurately about natural history along the way. Jean Hegland's Into the Forest is another novel I'd put in that category; it is a post-apocalyptic coming of age story, but the northern California forest is practically a character.

I'll be interested to see what other reades offer up.

pookie said...

Thomas Hardy's _The Woodlanders_ is one of my faves. And his _The Return of the Native_ has such compelling descriptions of the heath and its creatures -- I visited that part Dorset just to experience it myself.

Hugh said...

Thank you for the suggestions, all helpful.

BerryBird, I definitely will read the Highest Tide (since it's set in my neck of the, er, woods), and will also check out The Hungry Tide. I've read The Tortilla Curtain and several short stories by T.C. Boyle. Thanks for the reminder about how much nature he includes.