Summary and book reviews of Any Small Thing Can Save You by Christina Adam

Any Small Thing Can Save You

A Bestiary

By Christina Adam

Any Small Thing Can Save You
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  • Hardcover: Nov 2001,
    158 pages.
    Paperback: Sep 2002,
    240 pages.

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Book Summary

Medieval bestiaries were instructional works gathered from the fables and tales told by travelers. They described beasts and fish and fowl that few had ever seen. For the characters in Christina Adam's Any Small Thing Can Save You, each animal that passes through their world reflects a measured truth about love---between a husband and wife, a child and a parent, a brother and sister, at a moment of danger or discovery.

Like the richest classical paintings, the entries in this engaging bestiary treat those unexpected moments when we are suddenly awakened from our daily routines, surprised and restored by the beauty of the natural world and our capacity for love within it. Any Small Thing Can Save You casts a wise eye on the kinds of simple intimacies we all long for, and on the truest opportunities for real salvation.

Artfully designed, Any Small Thing Can Save You is truly a gift.

A is for ASP

When she taught Latin in high school, her students had performed an elaborate skit that ended with the death of Cleopatra, stung by an asp. The cast found every opportunity and application for the word "asp," with Milton-like s's--that soft susurrus--hissing out into the audience, held as long as possible before the final p. Twenty years later, Helena still laughed to think of where, anatomically speaking, the Latin club had located the fatal strike, but in fact, she was terrified of snakes. When she and her husband had fixed fences on the ranch, it was the one thing she found comforting: At that altitude, there were no snakes. It was never necessary, even in tall grass and weeds, to watch where they were going.

When they retired and moved south to New Mexico, the neighbors cautioned them not to water at night, a practice that brought snakes down from the desert. They were to watch for the wedge-shaped head of a rattler, and listen for the dry, warning sound. ...

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Reviews

Media Reviews
Kirkus Reviews

Elegant minimalism that creates lasting images.

Publishers Weekly

Medieval bestiaries were compendiums of animal lore particularly descriptions of exotic and fantastic beasts as well as anthologies of moral instruction the fiery breath of the dragon provoked fear of hell, while the pelican, bringing her dead children back to life with blood from her own breast, was an allegorical Christ. The animals in this collection of 26 vignettes (one for each letter of the alphabet) from Adam (Sleeping with the Buffalo) are generally more commonplace than their antique counterparts, but the revelations they inspire are profoundly affecting and often gorgeous.

Author Blurb Kim Barnes
This book is...spellbinding in its vision.

Author Blurb Jim Harrison
[A book] of surpassing grace and beauty.

Author Blurb Dianne Benedict, author of Shiny Objects
. . . incredible . . . . water to a parched throat.

Author Blurb Kim Barnes, author of In the Wilderness
I read this book first with curiosity and then with wonder. The prose is heartbreakingly beautiful. The simplest of acts becomes infused with meaning and affirmation. With wisdom, insight, and a hawk's eye for detail, Adam weaves the lives of animals into the lives of the men and women whose daily existence seems precariously balanced between hope and despair. This book is an uncommon gift, spellbinding in its vision.

Author Blurb Alice Munro
There is indeed a quiet magic about it, a cumulative power.

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