First off, it’s a beautifully crafted little thing that fits in the palm of your hand. (If your hand is larger than a child’s but smaller than Andre the Giant’s.) It’s also got lots of pictures – its pages are filled with fantastic pen-and-ink illustrations by artist Nate Christopherson that are perfectly suited in their weirdness to Leach’s prose. The essays (I guess that’s what they are, even though they read more like the strangest dream journal you could put together) are all weird, funny, oddly poignant, and plainly stunning little vignettes about the natural world surrounding us. Leach uses words describing animals and plant life that you swear aren’t real, only to discover, to considerable glee, your linguistic and ecological ignorance. (There’s a great glossary in the back with words like “argle-bargle,” whimwhams,” and “radish ministers.”) There’s something about the way all of her sentences come together that feels comfortable and almost euphoric, as if we’re shrugging our way into an old coat on the coldest day of the year. Each essay unfolds as if from the lips of an odd, old-tymey storyteller sitting at the edge of the firelight – you know all these things to be true, but you’ve just never heard it all put so eloquently.
Go on now – go and find this book for yourself. It has the Book Catapult guarantee. (Word on the street is that it will be an Indie Next List title for July 2012, with a blurb from yours truly. The blurb will read a lot like what I wrote here, so don’t be alarmed.)