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This is a searing short novel, built of the interlocking fates of a badger-baiter and a disconsolate farmer, unfolding in a stark rural setting where man, animal, land and weather are at loggerheads. Their two paths converge with tragic inevitability. Jones writes of the physiology of grief and the isolation of loss with brilliance, and about the simple rawness of animal existence with a naturalist's unblinking eye. His is a pared-down prose of resonant simplicity and occasional lushness. His writing about ducks and dogs and cows is axe-sharp. There is not a whiff of the bucolic pastoral or the romanticized sod here. This is a real rural ride. It is short, but crackles with latent compressed energy that makes it swell to fill more space than at first glance it occupies.
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