A deeply personal and laugh-out-loud mixture of nature book and family memoir from the Sunday Times bestselling author of The Good, The Bad and The Furry
21st-Century Yokel explores the way we can be tied inescapably to landscape, whether we like it or not, often through our family and our past. It’s not quite a nature book, not quite a humour book, not quite a family memoir, not quite folklore, not quite social history, not quite a collection of essays, but a bit of all six.
It contains owls, badgers, ponies, beavers, otters, bats, bees, scarecrows, dogs, ghosts, Tom’s loud and excitable dad and, yes, even a few cats. It’s full of Devon’s local folklore – the ancient kind, and the everyday kind – and provincial places and small things. But what emerges from this focus on the small are themes that are broader and bigger and more definitive.
The book’s language is colloquial and easy and its eleven chapters are discursive and wide-ranging, rambling even. The feel of the book has a lot in common with the country walks Tom Cox was on when he composed much of it: it’s bewitched by fresh air, intrepid in minor ways, haunted by weather and old stories and the spooky edges of the outdoors, restless, sometimes foolish, and prone to a few detours... but it always reaches its intended destination.
The book is illustrated with Tom’s own landscape photographs and linocuts by his mother.
“Tom Cox is an enchanting companion in this modern romp through treasured landscapes. I laughed and learned on every page.”
Tristan Gooley, author of The Natural Navigator and The Walker's Guide to Outdoor Clues and Signs
“A rich, strange, oddly glorious brew . . . Cox's writing is loose-limbed, engaging and extremely funny, and time spent in his company is time very pleasantly spent.”
“A wonderful, witty and moving collection of essays that, together, meander somewhere between nature writing, memoir and quiet polemic. As ever, Tom Cox’s musing and meditations are profound and playful; reflective and seriously readable, riffing on the difficulties of locating bat detectors in Argos one moment and painting heartbreaking eulogies to his Nan the next. A storyteller in entrancing form.”
Rob Cowen, author of Common Ground
“Like a British David Sedaris dedicated to a rural way of life, Tom Cox crafts funny and poignant stories out of observations and interactions – except his observations are of trees and his interactions are with squirrels.”
“A hybrid of nature writing, memoir, and social history, it rambles, leisurely, through the English countryside, often pausing to ponder the relationship between people and place”