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A Reader of Fictions: The Trees Were Mistaken - Andrew Bird

A Reader of Fictions

Book Reviews for Just About Every Kind of Book

Monday, October 17, 2011

The Trees Were Mistaken - Andrew Bird

Suddenly in the Depths of the Forest

Author: Amos Oz
Pages: 134
ARC Acquired from: Harcourt Books via NetGalley

Brief Summary:
There is a small town, much like other towns, except for one thing: there are no animals (except for humans). No bees buzz around the plants, no fish swim in the river and no wolves howl at the moon. All of the animals left, taken by the mountain demon Nehi. Everyone in the town just ignores the curse that has come over them, pretending they don't remember how things used to be. Except for some of the children, who sometimes think they hear or see an animal.

Review:
Suddenly in the Depths of the Forest reads like a folk tale/fairy tale, and actually frequently reminded me of a number of other stories, although it never actually turned into any of them. At one point, there was a clear reference to Persephone, for example. I expected a bit more fairy tale than folk tale, I guess, so I was a bit surprised to find it without a neat ending tied up in a bow.

The story is well-written and clever. I love stories about animals, even in their absence. Can you imagine a town with nothing but people? Ugh! Of course, I wouldn't mind getting rid of, say, all the cockroaches. What do they do anyway? And, given that I'm petrified of bees, I wouldn't mind them being gone either, except for the flowers and the honey. But kittens and dogs and horses and goats and everything? And beef and chicken and pork?

What the story seems mostly to be about is not so much the absence of the animals, but the way people react to the lack. In some ways, this seems to be a study of human nature, of hubris and curiosity, of bravery and fear, of cruelty and friendship. Really, the story doesn't fit into a particular box and is told in a somewhat atypical manner. I enjoyed this brief tale, and think it conveys an interesting message, although I think it's up to the reader whether the message is positive or negative.

P.S. About today's song. Andrew Bird is not always the most clear in his enunciation, so I was not able to locate or discern certain lyrics for this song. Nevertheless, I feel like he has the perfect feel for this book: nature, darkness, a bit of hope, and some craziness.

P.P.S. Although I usually post a picture from the cover I have, I'm not this time, because I like this cover so much better. Good change!

"This is a story, some kind of a story
This is a story about about a boy and girl,
A girl and a boy, a boy."

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