Book Reviews – Tales By Two Patricks

In the last couple of months I’ve read a couple of new books by Patrick Barkham and Patrick Galbraith. Here are my brief thoughts.

I didn’t know Patrick Barkham had released a collection of his newspaper and magazine articles until I saw it in a Didsbury bookshop. I have a backlog of nature books from past Christmases and birthdays to get through but I’ve read several of his full length works (The Butterfly Isles, Coastlines and Islander) and liked them so I bought it.

In the introduction Patrick B says he can’t write in the more challenging way of his Guardian colleague and to be honest I prefer to read his more gentle prose. I want to know what needs to be put right in the world but I also want to enjoy reading.

As with any anthology by one author if you don’t like one piece there’s soon another likely to appeal. One of the longer pieces walking the route of the propose HS2 railway line seemed a better idea in theory than on the page. On the other hand most things did hit the spot. I particularly liked a piece about trying to see an endangered Greater Mouse-eared Bat. You can see a shorter version of this at the link below:

Patrick Galbraith’s book is an original work rather as opposed to a collection of previously published pieces. Each chapter is devoted to a species in significant decline in the British countryside. Subjects include Bittern, Black Grouse, Capercaillie, Corncrake, Grey Partridge, Hen Harrier and Turtle Dove.

Patrick G is the editor of The Shooting Times. I’ve seen his stuff previously in a monthly magazine. I will happily admit that I’ve never really taken to the pieces he has done in The Critic. It’s easy to say that’s because he’s a shooter, but I never really felt that was it. The writing just wasn’t very engaging. I received the book as a Father’s Day gift from Sabine if anyone is wondering how I then came to acquire a copy.

On a larger canvas of 25-30 page chapters he is much more engaging however. He is a skilled observer of detail which makes these accounts absorbing. Whether he is talking to birders, conservation workers, farmers or gamekeepers he spots little things that bring the writing alive. The only real negative for me in the writing was his need to talk about him or those he is interviewing taking ‘toilet breaks’, it doesn’t add anything and it jars.

You can find details of both books at the following links:

And as usual I am happy to lend my copies out to interested readers in the Blackpool area.

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