Discussion of “The Book of Eels” by Tom Fort and “The Gospel of Eels” by Patrik Svensson

Tracey reviewed the reviews. Unusually there were two books to review, “The Book of Eels” and “the Gospel of Eels”. She had read both. The choice between the two eel books was an accident. Leonard had intended to read The Book of Eels, but ended up ordering The Gospel of Eels.

Both books were well received. Tracey rated The Book of Eels and Sarah and Ruth The Gospel of Eels 8 out of 10.  Sarah had loved The Gospel of Eels, but wasn’t sure why; it was enigmatic, like the eel slippery.  Ruth was interested in the link between the eel’s complex life cycle and the complexity of relations between fathers and sons. She found The Gospel of Eels ultimately depressing, the mindless, callous, cruelty of humans’ treatment of other living species, the threat of the extinction of the eel.

Tracey agreed with the reviewer that found The Book of Eels “fascinating, beautifully written and deeply peculiar”. She still didn’t like eels, sinuous, slimy and reclusive creatures, but was now fascinated by them.

Wendy and Peter were outliers. Wendy had rated The Book of Eels at 6 out of 10, disliking the author’s Old Etonian background and passion for fishing. Peter had rated The Gospel of Eels 9 out 10. He had thought of rating it 10 out of 10, unusual for Peter, known for his ungenerous ratings. He thought it poetic, a work of literature. He would read anything else written by Svensson.

The Gospel of Eels is very Swedish, telling you much about Sweden, the English version, which we had read, a tribute to its translator as well as to its author.

Both Tracey and Christopher recounted their eel experiences. Tracey had been brought up on mid- Atlantic Ascension Island, where her parents worked in communications. She was un-frightened snorkelling, except of Moray Eels. Christopher said there were two remaining Lavoirs (communal washing places) on Sark. One was at its north end, built during the French occupation in the 16th Century. It was at a height of 85m above a very steep rivulet, similar to that at Giffard Bay, St John, on Jersey’s north coast. Remarkably elver had made it up the rivulet, so eels are still seen in the Lavoir.

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