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Gentle and Fierce

192 pages
Paperback, 21 x 14.8 cm
Published July 2021
ISBN 9781925818710

Gentle and Fierce

Vanessa Berry

A new collection of essays on the relationships between humans and animals, by Vanessa Berry, author of Mirror Sydney, and the memoir of adolescence Ninety9.

Gentle and Fierce focuses on the world of animals, and the way their presence has shaped the author’s life story and her sense of self. Having spent her life in city environments, Vanessa Berry’s experiences with animals have largely been through encounters with urban creatures, representations of animals in art and the media, and as decorative ornaments or kitsch. The essays suggest that these mediated encounters, rather than being mundane or removed from nature, provide meaningful connections with the animal world, at a time in which it is threatened by climate change and environmental destruction.

The subjects of Berry’s singular bestiary include butterflies, a glass fish, a stuffed Kodiak bear, the rabbits on a Japanese island, the sinking horse from The NeverEnding Story, snails and flies, a porcelain otter, Lassie, dream spiders and cats, and wallabies on the Isle of Man. Berry responds to each with the attentiveness and empathy that is the hallmark of her writing. The essays are accompanied by her illustrations, which testify to her background as an artist and zine maker.

Vanessa Berry is an ideal observer because she accords everything she sees the respect of acknowledging the premises it was founded on. Her writing is thoroughly informed as well as affectionate and funny, and often deeply moving. Luc Sante

About the Author

Vanessa Berry

Vanessa Berry is a Sydney writer and artist who works with history, memory and archives. She is the author of the memoir Ninety9, the ‘autobiographical almanac’ Strawberry Hills Forever and Mirror Sydney, an essayistic atlas exploring the city’s marginal places and undercurrents, and which won the 2018 Mascara Review’s Avant-garde Award for nonfiction.

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