Thursday, 23 June 2011

Recent reads: The Man Who Planted Trees by Jean Giono

I only recently came across the name Jean Giono, after his work was recommended to me by my friend, Dmetri Kakmi.  Following that discussion, I ordered a copy of The Man Who Planted Trees.

Coincidentally, Dmetri has blogged about this particular book today and you can read his comments here.  While I have a tale to tell about the arrival of this book, I won't add much more to what Dmetri's said about Giono's writing, except that the simplest tales are often the most profound and memorable.  It's a fine piece of writing, and puts me in mind of Alan Garner's Stone Book quartet and elements of Paul Gallico (The Snow Goose, for instance), all of which I read many years ago, except Giono pares the story-telling back even further perhaps.

Anyway, I found the book online at a couple of sites, but Fishpond were offering an edition with wood engravings by Michael McCurdy that took my eye, and so I ordered from them.  A very light, paperback-sized package arrived a few days later, which I opened to discover... a stamp-sized book.  It's a tiny thing.

Perhaps I'm exaggerating in saying it's a stamp-sized book, but it's certainly not much larger than an unfolded book of stamps.  And, including a 24 page Afterword by Norma L. Goodrich, it's only 77 pages long.  I read it in one small sitting.

Regardless of that, it's a delightful piece of writing (with wonderful woodcuts) and I'm keen to read more by Jean Giono.  The Song of the World may be next.

1 comment:

Dmetri said...

Ah, you are totally right, Paul. I hadn't thought of that. There are tones of Gallico and of course the brilliant Alan Garner in this simple yet powerful tale. Snow Goose is one of my favourite novellas. If I could write one thing as brilliant as that I'd die happy.