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Monday, September 14, 2009

In praise of Philip Hoare's "Leviathan"

Yesterday afternoon my family were either at rock festivals or in bed sleeping off colds or hangovers and so I repaired to the sofa, covered my knees with a blanket to ward off the sudden chill and read the second half of Philip Hoare's "Leviathan". I'm not really a nature boy so the fact that I was so captivated by a book about whales should be worth some of the usual asterisk-studded superlatives. One of the things that makes the "creative non-fiction" category so seductive for writers is the way it allows them to stretch out in many different dimensions - history, literature, philosophy, science and others - simultaneously but I don't know any who've managed to do it in such a triumphantly non-boring way as Hoare. I can't recommend it too highly.


  1. Spot on. I read this about a month ago and haven't been so captivated by a book for a long time. In fact straight after I finished it I read Moby-Dick to fill the whale shaped void in my life.

  2. It's on my birthday list - I'm hoping to be starting it next Monday

  3. Anonymous2:09 pm

    It's an amazing book.

  4. It's a great wee book. It took me a while to get into his personal style, but he does have a way of drawing the reader into the work with some very clever literary devices - like framing the story around Moby Dick and the whaling industry while also telling us a huge amount about the animals themselves. 'Captivating' indeed.