Wednesday 28 March 2012

Three Ways of the Saw by Matt Mullins

Most of the stories in this brilliant book are gritty urban realism and so I've reviewed it on Over Forty Shades.

However the title story fits right in with the themes of this blog and is such a lovely story it deserves a blogpost to itself.

Three Ways of the Saw is a meditation on the felling of a storm damaged locust tree, told from the perspectives of: the ageing owner of the house and garden where the tree grows; the tree surgeon just approaching middle age and the young apprentice tree surgeon.

The parallels between the ageing tree and the ageing house owner are obvious but beautifully drawn.

I grab the bottle of oxycontin and go to the picture window where I can look out over the front porch at what's left of my honey locust. Used to be that almost every day when I cam home from the paper mill I'd sit on the porch swing for a while and watch its thorny, green branches sway in the wind or its snow covered skelton hunkering down beneath the flat winter sky. Trimming the thorns off the trunk and otherwise keeping an eye on it had been my habit ever since I planted it thrity-three years ago to grow into blocking out the transformer and telephone pole behind. But there was more to it than fixing a bad view. There is what we decide to take and what we can give back. There is the grind of the mill and the sulfur stink of stripped logs being processed down to slurry, and there's the trees I've planted on this deep lot, one for each year here, the first of them all now halved and dying in the middle of my front lawn.

The reader knows that the homeowner has little time left to him and that his wife will soon be left alone. The futures for the other two characters are less certain, will the tree surgeon keep his health and continue to work in an understanding way with trees? Will the apprentice learn to love the trees and to see tree surgery as more than just a job or will he prefer to spend his time getting drunk with his friends?

Three Ways of the Saw by Matt Mullins published by Atticus Books.

Reviewed for Brighton Blogger's Reading Challenge 2012.

You can read my latest post on Green Books on Brighton Blogger's Book after Book blog.

There's also another interesting article about greening the publishing industry here.

As ever, text in red contains hyperlinks to other webpages where you can find out more.

1 comment:

Carol Steel said...

This sounds like a great read. I like the line: "There is what we decide to take and what we can give back." The balance of trees versus no trees is an issue for the town in which I live. Bulldozers go through and clean out all green things when expanding subdivisions. No planning for trees at all. It is horrid. We've had tree surgeons in several times to care for our old trees here and have planted many more since buying this house. If cared for well, these trees will live longer than I will.
I'll look for this book.