Gentle and Fierce

Vanessa Berry

Gentle and Fierce
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Gentle and Fierce

Vanessa Berry

Gentle and Fierce focuses on the world of animals, and the way their presence has shaped the author’s attitudes 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 illustrations that testify to her background as an artist and zine maker.

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