Book Review: Running feet, sharp noses – PVA Books

Posted April 16, 2023 in Book Review


PVA Books’ new collection Running feet, sharp noses showcases sixteen intimate reflections on the animal world. A combination of insightful anecdotes, it documents the extraordinary harmony that exists between humans and animals in their shared home: the world.

Each essay has its own flair and focus, beginning with Sara Baume’s heartwarming account of a ‘majestic rook’, Dave. Every morning, he taps on her mother’s window and endearingly waits on the garden bench until she comes out for her coffee. Another motif is the presence of animals in art, which Niamh Campbell intuitively addresses, taking the exhibition of Balthus’s work, Cats and Girls, as inspiration. His penchant for felines is exemplified by the series of ink drawings he produced in response to his cat’s disappearance.

Darragh McCausland touches on how profoundly affected one can be from simply observing animals, particularly if overwhelmed by anguish. While recovering in an addiction centre, birds ‘blackening the sky in wheeling thousands’ mesmerise him, prompting a powerful epiphany.

Sabrina Mandanici recites her fascinating visit to the Chauvet Cave, with the ‘most spectacular animals’ carved into rock over 30,000 years ago. She narrates the enchanting passageways as ‘off-branching chambers’, each one ‘its own cosmos’.

Similarly, Running feet, sharp noses unveils a collection of chambers, with each writer’s cosmos featuring the animals in their lives; ‘a source of magic’.

Words: Aisling Arundel

Running feet, sharp noses: Essays on the animal world

Edited by Adrian Duncan, Nathan O’Donnell, and Niamh Dunphy

[PVA Books]


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