Things That Are: Encounters with Plants, Stars and Animals, Amy Leach


So animals have always been one of my ‘things’ and the older I get the more fascinated I become with nature and her charming/hilarious quirks. Walking around a zoo or a natural history museum I always find something that impresses me, I love to discover something I wouldn’t even have thought physically possible: something that only nature could dream up. Amy Leach has really hit on this with her wonderful book, focusing her attentions on (as the title so cannily suggests) things that ARE- not on things that may or may not exist, which I believe the world to focus on far too much. She manages to address both the practicality of Noah’s Ark and the Panda’s quite serious life- endangering addiction to bamboo with an infectious wit and grace.

Leach’s way with words is the making of her writing. She uses language how I believe it is supposed to be used, poetically and with innovation. In her glossary she defines ‘Vasty’ and writes at the end “Do not let anyone tell you these words are not words; all words are words” I’d like to thank Amy for making this statement as I have also always felt this to be true. The world she creates with language (‘Mouldywarp’, ‘Planet Huffenpuff’) led me somewhere sneaky between fiction and reality, and I was happy to dwell there for 200 pages or so.

Leach’s beautiful prose personifies even the most obscure of creatures. I felt empathy for the ever striving salmon and quite frankly distraught for the stressed-out sea cucumbers. I also felt that to be a goat would be a very cool thing indeed (smart little blighters).

This is a really neat little work of non-fiction and unlike anything I have read before.
Thank you to Canongate for sending me a copy!


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