The Oak Papers

James Canton. HarperOne, $27.99 (240p) ISBN 978-0-06-303794-6
Canton (Ancient Wonderings), who runs the Wild Writing MA program at the University of Essex, pays homage to “a venerable oak tree, eight hundred years old, living on the edge of a wood on a small country estate a few miles from [his] house” in this elegiac account. Sitting beside the Honywood Oak in north Essex, England, “in all weathers and all seasons, at all times of day and night,” Canton becomes well-acquainted with the tree’s curves and contours, and the wildlife that lives in and around it. Many of Canton’s observations are captured in journal entries: “8 February. The snow has gone. The sunlight drowns the green of the conifers. There is birdsong and signs of life.” Along the way, Canton offers a broad look at oak trees in general and their place in human history: their wood was used for fire, for example, their trunks were used to build homes, and their acorns gathered, stored, and eaten. Canton movingly maintains a humble sense of perspective: no matter his own worries, existential crises, or accomplishments, he understands they pale in comparison to all that the oak tree has endured and provided through centuries. Nature-lovers will find Canton’s poetic tribute to be a treat. Agent: Jessica Woollard, David Higham Assoc. (Feb.)
Reviewed on : 02/26/2021
Release date: 02/16/2021
Genre: Nonfiction
Ebook - 256 pages - 978-0-06-303797-7
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