BOOKS: The Good Year

From ANIMAL PEOPLE, October 1996:

The Good Year
by Era Zistel
J.B. Townsend (12 Greenleaf Drive,
Exeter, NH 03833), 1959, reissued 1996.
206 pages, paperback, $15.00.

Thirty-seven years after Zistel wrote
The Good Year, more readers than ever will
identify with her poignant chapters on hunting.
The wounded raccoon central to the story survives
and gets through one hunting season––but
just as attachment seems safe, Man the Enemy
defeats Human the Rescuer and Nurturer.
Zistel’s characterization of the incorrigibly
ignorant and cruel is almost unbearably accurate.

She writes entertainingly of the life of an
animal lover in all of her books, but this, her
first and best, most evocatively raises the timely
questions about playing God with the wild.
Not soft on herself, Zistel admits her
wildlife feeding stations may be wrong, accepts
her part in the death of a beloved goat, and her
remarks on the natural destruction of mice by
cats are unflinching and classic.
If this year really was a good year,
with cages of chipmunks, unplanned cat progeny,
and stray dogs, I am not up for sequels
about bad years. Yet most animal lovers, especially
children, will be enraptured.
––Phyllis Clifton

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