Longlisted for the Wainwright Book Prize 2019
A life-affirming book about the British countryside, the cycle of nature, solitude and contentment, through the prism of a brilliant new nature writer’s experience working as a traditional mole-catcher, and why he gave it up.
I have been catching moles in gardens and farms for years and I have decided that I am not going to do it any more. Molecatching is a traditional skill that has given me a good life but I am old now and tired of hunting and it has taught me what I needed to learn.
Although common, moles are mysterious: their habits are inscrutable, they are anatomically bizarre, and they live completely alone. Marc Hamer has come closer to them than most, both through his long working life out in the Welsh countryside, and his experiences of rural homelessness as a boy, sleeping in hedgerows.
Over the years, Marc has learned a great deal about these small, velvet creatures who live in the dark beneath us, and the myths that surround them, and his work has also led him to a wise and uplifting acceptance of the inevitable changes that we all face. In this beautiful and meditative book, Marc tells his story and explores what moles, and a life in nature, can tell us about our own humanity and our search for contentment.
How to Catch a Mole is a gem of nature writing, beautifully illustrated by Joe McLaren, which celebrates living peacefully and finding wonder in the world around us.
"From the first few words I knew I had encountered loving honesty and no one needs more than that. It is rare to encounter such respect and understanding of nature for herself."
"How To Catch A Mole is a beguiling mixture: part autobiography, part handbook, part travel book, part philosophical treatise. I’m happy to report that it succeeds on each level"
"Not only a compelling meditation on the 'little gentleman in black velvet'…but also a fascinating, lyrical account of the loneliness and beauty of life on the margins, a memoir of vagrancy"
"This is a wonderful book about our relationship with the earth, with other animals and with our own troubled humanity. It has taught me a lot. I feel great love for it."
"How to Catch a Mole is a beautiful, elegiac ode to a remarkable creature. It’s also an exploration of Hamer’s life as he approaches his sunset years. Each page is filled with wonder, love, regret, humility and a sense of wonder (and oneness) with nature."