Mar 4, 2011

Stirring the Mud

On Swamps, Bogs, and Human Imagination
by Barbara Hurd

What a unique little book! Stirring the Mud is just that- a book all about mud, of all things. It's an odd mixture of poetry, literary allusion, childhood memories and biological curiosities, all revolving around the muck of a swamp. Hurd writes about swamps and bogs as places of beauty, mystery and (as they have so often been viewed) sources of revulsion and disease. She ponders on the lives and doings of creatures that live in these muddy, watery domains, and draws parallels between the swamp and things like the depths of the subconscious, the stewing of imagination, the unformed beginnings of things. You'd be surprised what she ends up mentioning in connection to mud- anything from burial customs and Superbowl games to watercolor painting techniques and the dynamics of relationships. Her metaphors often slide one into the other, shifting focus several times in the same paragraph (rather like elusively flowing mud itself) and it can be either frustrating or entertaining trying to keep pace with it all! Sometimes I was befuddled, often intrigued. Of course I rather liked the natural history bits but they weren't very extensive or detailed, just enough to whet my appetite.

Rating: 3/5 ........ 143 pages, 2001

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