Thursday, November 18, 2010

Book Hungry's November CREATURES

This month's Book Hungry pick was made by our very own Alyson Peterson.  Are you ready for it?  Well, here it is:
ALL CREATURES GREAT AND SMALL by James Herriot was first published in the seventies.  Since then, it has spawned several re-reprints, a television series, and a movie.  Can you believe I'd never heard of it before Alyson made it November's official pick?

Summary (from Barnes & Noble): Delve into the magical, unforgettable world of James Herriot, the world's most beloved veterinarian, and his menagerie of heartwarming, funny, and tragic animal patients.
For over thirty years, generations of readers have thrilled to Herriot's marvelous tales, deep love of life, and extraordinary storytelling abilities. For decades, Herriot roamed the remote, beautiful Yorkshire Dales, treating every patient that came his way from smallest to largest, and observing animals and humans alike with his keen, loving eye.

In All Creatures Great and Small, we meet the young Herriot as he takes up his calling and discovers that the realities of veterinary practice in rural Yorkshire are very different from the sterile setting of veterinary school. From caring for his patients in the depths of winter on the remotest homesteads to dealing with uncooperative owners and critically ill animals, Herriot discovers the wondrous variety and never-ending challenges of veterinary practice as his humor, compassion, and love of the animal world shine forth.

My Take: First off all, I feel it important to note that while my eyes aren't perfect, I usually have no problem reading a book with small print.  This book, however, had minuscule font.  I mean tiny!  That may have been the contributing factor into my dislike for this month's selection, but it was not the only reason.

Was this novel--as promised by the summary--heartwarming? Yes.  Was it funny?  In places, yes...although I'm sure I missed more than a few comedic moments as there were so many side characters and Herriot traveled so much in his animal tending that I quickly and easily forgot most everyone but Herriot himself and a handful of others.  Were there animal tragedies?  Of course.  It couldn't be a memoir (at least a truthful one) without it.

So, why didn't I enjoy ALL CREATURES GREAT AND SMALL?

Yes, the font size made it difficult to read, but for me, the main problem was that I just wasn't captured by it.  Maybe this is because I--having grown up in a small farming town and while my family didn't run a farm, I come from a long line of dairy farmers--wasn't really all that enthralled with the stories, themselves.  Herriot didn't once paint a birthing as this pristine, wholly beautiful thing, but the messy and somehow still breathtaking experience that it is.  But, I already knew this, having seen my share of farm animal births/injuries/fatalities up close and personal. 

Also, I'm the kind of reader that hungers for big tension, even in my nonfiction.  With memoirs, I lean decidedly toward the arenas of those who've survived terrible ordeals and made it through not only in one piece but stronger for it.  Books like LUCKY by Alice Sebold, A CHILD CALLED IT by Dave Pelzer, or RUNNING WITH SCISSORS by Augsten Burroughs.

ALL CREATURES GREAT AND SMALL, while having it's own ups and downs, just didn't have that big nuclear bomb that I crave when reading anything, whether it's fiction or non.

But, this is just my opinion folks.  *ducks as fans throw rotten vegetables at me*  So, if you are a city-dweller hankering for an honest-to-goodness look at country life, or if you're a county girl, hankering for a walk down memory lane, you might enjoy this.  There are no exploding buildings or assassinations of high-profile government officials, but all that aside, this is a heart-warming, feel-good book.

Now that you've heard me spout off about this month's selection, wander over to my other peep's blogs and get their opinions.


Abby Mumford
Alyson Peterson
Cynthia Reese
Elizabeth Ryann
Kelly Breakey
Patty Blount
Vanessa Noble

How about all you fun followers? Have you read ALL CREATURES GREAT AND SMALL? Please share in the comments!

Until next month, folks, where our December pick will be THE HOST by Stephenie Meyer.