Friday, July 25, 2014

Fauna by Alissa York

Wildlife and lonely humans in Toronto encounter and change each other in Fauna by Alissa York.

Edal, a federal wildlife officer at Pearson Airport, is on stress leave and finds herself befriending a mouse. Guy, who inherited an auto junkyard from the uncle and aunt who raised him, is rehabilitating a red-tail hawk. Stephen, a soldier on medical leave after traumatic service in the Middle East, works for Guy and cares for an orphaned litter of raccoon kits. Lily, a homeless teen, sleeps in the Don Valley with her beloved Newfoundland dog. Kate, a veterinary technician, mourns the death of her lesbian lover. And then there's the Coyote Cop, a blogger who believes that all coyotes in the metropolitan area should be killed.

Close third-person point of view alternates between these people, along with occasional urban wildlife individuals: a squirrel, a raccoon, a coyote.

I spotted this guy in Vancouver.
Edal was named for one of the otters in Gavin Maxwell's Ring of Bright Water. When she was a child, her mother often read to her, but Ring of Bright Water was the only book she read to Edal in full.

"Her mother explained nothing, and she left nothing out. Countless words slipped Edal's grasp and swam away, but they swam beautifully, some darting, others wagging long and languid lines. Pinnacles and glacial corries. Filigree tracery and tidewrack rubbish-heap. Clairvoyance and manna and quarry. Purloined."

Fauna is a graceful meditation on the power of stories, and the way that connecting with other beings can improve our solitary existence.

Readalikes: Prodigal Summer (Barbara Kingsolver); Five Bells (Gail Jones).

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