Fingers in the Sparkle Jar by Chris Packham

Review published on November 4, 2017.

Chris Packham’s memoir, Fingers in the Sparkle Jar, is a bold, shimmering creature.

Drawn primarily from the naturalist’s young life in Southampton in the 1970s, this memoir is written in both the first and third person – a shifting focus that is often a remote one viewing the author entirely from the viewpoint of another. This initially takes some getting used to but effectively weaves itself into an intricate and satisfying jigsaw as Packham unswervingly writes about himself dispassionately and with no guile from that other person’s viewpoint so that a full, unequivocal picture is drawn up.

His chapters – his focus – also move back and forth in time – pulling the threads of each of his memories into a whole.

But it is the language that is to be most savoured in this book. Each paragraph is lush with language, dense with description: reading like a poem in its own right.

It is a rewarding read but not a quick one. It requires a more leisurely pace to do it justice. It’s use of language is unique, potent and often freshly coined. I especially loved ‘Otterised Evil’.

It is a beautiful, immersive read about an obsession with wildlife. It is unflinching, raw and challenging. At its best, it sings off the page with its own exquisite voice.

Amanda Aldridge 4/4

Fingers in the Sparkle Jar by Chris Packham
Ebury Press 9781785033506 pbk Apr 2017

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