The Forest Unseen
Posted on August 16, 2019
In “The Forest Unseen,” David George Haskell takes a small portion of the forest (called a mandala), observes it for a year, and shares his observations in minute detail. I could only get thru a few days’ worth of observations. When I say “minute detail” I really, seriously mean it. For instance, the author took over two pages to describe how a parasitic Horsehair Worm takes over a cricket’s body. He also spends six pages on an “experiment” in which he strips completely naked, in the middle of winter when “not counting the windchill, it is twenty degrees below freezing” and basically explains to the reader, step by step, how his body shuts down, in its journey toward hypothermia. He compares and contrasts his body’s reaction to the cold, with the little chickadees that live within his mandala, who are mostly OK during the winter because they have fluffy feathers to keep them warm. Not to be harsh, but I couldn’t help thinking “What the &*%$ did you expect to happen?” as I read that part.
I don’t like to write bad book reviews. I really don’t. I’m sure bad books are out there, but for the most part, I believe that “bad” books, just haven’t found the right audience (and on the flip side, I firmly believe that anyone who “doesn’t like reading” just hasn’t found the right book yet!). Having said that, this book was not for me. I’m not saying it was bad. I am just not the right audience. I couldn’t finish it. I hate not finishing books that I start – it’s kind of a pet peeve for me. But “The Forest Unseen” just didn’t keep my attention. It was too much detail, too much description…..just too much. Other reviewers have stated that it might be better to read this book, in little chunks, over a period of weeks or months, rather than trying to go thru the whole thing in one shot, like you would a novel.
I do feel the need to give the author kudos for his patience and observations skills. Not many people have the kind of patience required to sit and observe anything in the detailed way the author did, in order to write this book. I know I certainly don’t.
Have you read this book? What did you think of it? Do you have any suggestions for great books you think I should read about camping, hiking, traveling or fun adventures? Let me know in the comments! Remember to follow me here, and on social media – links can be found at the top of the page. See you next week!