PRINT December 2015


Anne M. Wagner

I’ve never encountered a book like Helen Macdonald’s H Is for Hawk (Grove Press). The cover presents it as a memoir about loss and falconry, one that dazzles and fascinates, and this is true. But the fireworks and fascination don’t seem sufficient to account for the sensation that something mysterious, something marvelous, something more or other than talent and skill, has shaped its pages. I don’t quite know what to call this quality—not profundity or vision, not aliveness or aloneness, but some unique hybrid of all four. Macdonald feels and sees not just like a hawk (though close enough) but also like a reader, a thinker, and a poet. She has weathered love and mourned death. If H is for hawk (a goshawk named Mabel, “from amabilis, meaning lovable or dear”) it is also for home and heart and hurt and Helen herself, who is a character in her narrative as well as its author.

to keep reading

Artforum print subscribers have full access to this article. Please sign in below.

Not registered for Register here.

SUBSCRIBE NOW and save up to 65% off the newsstand price for full online access to this issue and our archive.

Order the PRINT EDITION of the December 2015 issue for $17 or the ONLINE EDITION for $5.99.

* This rate applies to U.S. domestic subscriptions.