How to Catch a Mole
Wisdom from a Life Lived in Nature
- ISBN: 9781771644792
- Tags: A Year in the Woods, Literary Non-Fiction, Marc Hamer, Nature & Environment, Seed to Dust,
- Dimensions: 5.25 x 7.5
- Published On: 10/01/2019
- 208 Pages
“A wonderful memoir … hands down the most charming book I read last year.”
—Margaret Renkl, The New York Times
In this charming, peaceful memoir, a traditional molecatcher shares the mysterious tricks of his trade, alongside poignant moments from his personal life, including his experience as a homeless teenager, his work as a professional gardener, and all that he has learned about our own humanity from a life spent outdoors.
Kneeling in a muddy field, clutching something soft and blue-black, Marc Hamer vows he will stop trapping moles—forever. In this earnest, understated, and sublime work of nonfiction literature, the molecatcher shares what led him to this strange career: from sleeping among hedges as a homeless teen, to toiling on the railway, to weeding windswept gardens in Wales.
Hamer infuses his wanderings with radiant poetry and stark, simple observations on nature’s oft-ignored details. He also reveals how to catch a mole—a craft long kept secret by its masters—and burrows into the unusual lives of his muses.
Moles, we learn, are colorblind. Their blood holds unusual amounts of carbon dioxide. Their vast tunnel networks are intricate and deceptive. And, like Hamer, they work alone.
Beautifully written, life-affirming, and highly original, How to Catch a Mole offers a gorgeous portrait of one man's deep, unbreakable bond with his natural surroundings, and offers hope and inspiration for anyone looking to improve their relationship with the natural world.
Marc Hamer was born in the North of England and moved to Wales more than thirty years ago. After spending a period homeless, then working on the railway, he returned to education and studied fine art. He has worked in art galleries, marketing, graphic design, as a magazine editor and taught creative writing in a prison before becoming a gardener and mole-catcher.
"This is an extraordinary book: part natural history, part memoir, part poetry—all entirely gorgeous. I've read no other book like this. Its beauty and heartbreak will stay with me for a long time. PS: the author stops killing moles, thank goodness."
—Sy Montgomery, New York Times bestselling author of How to Be a Good Creature and The Soul of an Octopus
"This is a wonderful book about our relationship with the earth, with other animals and with our own troubled humanity. It has taught me a lot. I feel great love for it."
—Max Porter, author of Grief Is the Thing with Feathers
“It is rare to encounter such respect and understanding of nature.”
—Rosamund Young, author of The Secret Life of Cows
"Informative and effortlessly readable... Ultimately a reflection on humanity’s fraught but sustaining relationship with nature."
"Marc Hamer's uplifting writings shed some light on the velvety creatures burrowing beneath our countryside."
—National Geographic Traveller
"A beguiling mixture: part autobiography, part handbook, part travel book, part philosophical treatise. I’m happy to report that it succeeds on each level."
"Marc tells his story and explores what moles, and a life in nature, can tell us about our own humanity and our search for contentment."
"A lovely little book. I read it through, then found myself going back and reading parts again."
—Lloyd Kahn, publisher and author of Tiny Homes: Simple Shelter