The Snow Geese.

The Snow Geese. William Fiennes.

London: Picador, 2002. Octavo, dustwrapper,

Snow geese spend their summers in the Canadian Arctic, on the tundra. Each autumn they migrate south, to Delaware, California and the Gulf of Mexico. In the spring, they fly north again. William Fiennes decided to go with them and to write about his travels. What he produced turned out to be about very much more than geese. A blend of autobiography and reportage, its subject was also homecoming: the birds on their long journeys home, the grace of homecomings, the strange gravity that home exerts. The arc of Fiennes' extraordinary physical adventure formed the backbone for meditations on philosophy, natural science and personal memoir. The book thrums with ideas, with stories and anecdotes, with humankind as well as wild fowl, with the funny and observant insights of an assured and highly entertaining writer. The joy of being alive, of being on the move and - above all - of returning home, is poignantly captured in this intelligent, exuberant book, a debut of great delicacy and distinction.

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