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As Kingfishers Catch Fire: Birds & Books

Alex Preston, Neil Gower

8 Reviews

Rated 0

Memoirs, Prose: non-fiction, Main courses, Wildlife: birds & birdwatching

AS KINGFISHERS CATCH FIRE: BIRDS AND BOOKS is an illustrated and visually stunning exploration of birds in literature, from Ovid to Ted Hughes.

'Delightful . . . an original look at the literature inspired by Britain's birdlife' the Guardian, Best Nature Books of 2017

'[The] pages light up with feathered magic' Evening Standard

When Alex Preston was 15, he stopped being a birdwatcher. Adolescence and the scorn of his peers made him put away his binoculars, leave behind the nature reserves and the quiet companionship of his fellow birders. His love of birds didn't disappear though. Rather, it went underground, and he began birdwatching in the books that he read, creating his own personal anthology of nature writing that brought the birds of his childhood back to brilliant life.

Looking for moments 'when heart and bird are one', Preston weaves the very best writing about birds into a personal narrative that is as much about the joy of reading and writing as it is about the thrill of wildlife. Beautifully illustrated and illuminated by the celebrated graphic artist Neil Gower, As Kingfishers Catch Fire is a book to love and to hold, to return to again and again, to marvel at the way that authors across the centuries have captured the endless grace and variety of birds. It will make you look at birds, at the world, in a newer, richer light.

'A joyful and a wondrous book . . . Each bird illustrated by Gower in a mixture of gouache and watercolour that brings to mind both William Morris and Eric Ravilious' the Observer

'I can see it under the Christmas tree of every family with a bird feeder and a copy of the RSPB Handbook . . . Preston captures his birds beautifully' The Times

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Praise for As Kingfishers Catch Fire: Birds & Books

  • A magical book: an inimitable fusion of ornithology, literary anthology and autobiography.

  • Neil Gower is a genius. It is as simple as that. - Bill Bryson

  • A writer of boundless talent - GQ on Alex Preston

  • As Kingfishers Catch Fire is both a joyful and a wondrous book, one that successfully captures the otherness of birds, while celebrating our yearning to transcend our lot, our yearning to touch the unknowable . . . Each bird illustrated by Gower in a mixture of gouache and watercolour that brings to mind both William Morris and Eric Ravilious - the Observer

  • As Kingfishers Catch Fire is a memoir/gallimaufry of ornithological obsession by Alex Preston. He watches birds in the sky and on the page darting between myths, stories and memoir like a swift. The characterful illustrations by Neil Gower add a whole new dimension to this gorgeous book. - Damian Barr, Guardian Best Books of 2017

  • Alex Preston, better known for his novels, joined forces with artist Neil Gower to produce the delightful As Kingfishers Catch Fire, an original look at the literature inspired by Britain's birdlife. - Guardian Best Nature Books of 2017

  • His pages light up with feathered magic - Evening Standard

  • I can see it under the Christmas tree of every family with a bird feeder and a copy of the RSPB Handbook . . . Preston captures his birds beautifully - The Times

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Alex Preston

Alex Preston is a bestselling and award-winning novelist, most recently of the critically-acclaimed In Love and War. He appears regularly on BBC television and radio. He writes for GQ, Harper's Bazaar and Town & Country Magazine as well as monthly fiction reviews for the Observer. He is a Senior Lecturer in Creative Writing at the University of Kent.

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