An entirely unique book, and one not to be missed. Hamer’s observational skills are second to none, and the quiet, gentle way this book reads is a sheer delight. His life, though at times challenging, has been spent mostly in solitary in the natural world, learning what it means to live a mole’s life. This may well be the most we have ever known about how this small, velvety, creature really lives, in it’s dark underground world. Hamer’s knowledge of the mole’s habits, were learned from many years being paid to catch them, when landowners found them to be undesirable, and he was incredibly successful in his trade, until one day, when he found he no longer wanted to kill these elusive, solitary creatures. Sprinkled throughout the book are the most beautiful illustrations by Joe McLaren, and poems by Hamer himself, making this a total gem of a book. — Becky Doherty
“Sublimely touching (and with the softest of hands), this book has that balance of warmth and cold that makes for good nature writing. Hamer’s observations demonstrate both a refusal to look away and a tender love for the environment around him. His memoir of a life spent catching moles waxes and wanes, at times gruesome, sensual, violent, and awestruck. This is a book for fans of the way that Mary Oliver lived and talked about her life.”
— Afton Montgomery, Tattered Cover Book Store, Denver, CO
An ABA Indie Next Selection
"An extraordinary book; I've read no other like it. Thank goodness Marc Hamer stopped killing moles and sat down to write."
--Sy Montgomery, author of The Soul of an Octopus
At once a highly original memoir and an ode to the outdoors, this unexpected--and delightfully strange--book reveals, at its core, a rare vision of the natural world.
Kneeling in a muddy field, clutching something soft and blue-black, Marc Hamer vows he will stop trapping moles--forever. In this earnest, understated, and sublime work of nonfiction literature, the molecatcher shares what led him to this strange career: from sleeping among hedges as a homeless teen, to toiling on the railway, to weeding windswept gardens in Wales.
Hamer infuses his wanderings with radiant poetry and stark, simple observations on nature's oft-ignored details. He also reveals how to catch a mole--a craft long kept secret by its masters--and burrows into the unusual lives of his muses.
Moles, we learn, are colorblind. Their blood holds unusual amounts of carbon dioxide. Their vast tunnel networks are intricate and deceptive. And, like Hamer, they work alone.