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Nature General

How to Catch a Mole

Wisdom from a Life Lived in Nature

narrator Marc Hamer

ECW Press
Initial publish date
Oct 2019
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    Publish Date
    Oct 2019
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Kneeling in a muddy field, clutching something soft and blue-black, Marc Hamer vows he will stop trapping moles—forever. In this earnest, understated, and sublime work of nonfiction literature, the molecatcher shares what led him to this strange career: from sleeping among hedges as a homeless teen, to toiling on the railway, to weeding windswept gardens in Wales.

Hamer infuses his wanderings with radiant poetry and stark, simple observations on nature’s oft-ignored details. He also reveals how to catch a mole—a craft long kept secret by its masters—and burrows into the unusual lives of his muses.

Moles, we learn, are colorblind. Their blood holds unusual amounts of carbon dioxide. Their vast tunnel networks are intricate and deceptive. And, like Hamer, they work alone.


About the author

Contributor Notes

Marc Hamer was born in the North of England and moved to Wales more than thirty years ago. After spending a period homeless, then working on the railway, he returned to education and studied fine art. He has worked in art galleries, marketing, graphic design, as a magazine editor and taught creative writing in a prison before becoming a gardener and mole-catcher.

Editorial Reviews


“This is an extraordinary book: part natural history, part memoir, part poetry—all entirely gorgeous. I've read no other book like this. Its beauty and heartbreak will stay with me for a long time. PS: the author stops killing moles, thank goodness.” — Sy Montgomery, New York Times bestselling author of How to Be a Good Creature and The Soul of an Octopus

“This is a wonderful book about our relationship with the earth, with other animals and with our own troubled humanity. It has taught me a lot. I feel great love for it.” — Max Porter, author of Grief Is the Thing with Feathers

“It is rare to encounter such respect and understanding of nature.” — Rosamund Young, author of The Secret Life of Cows


“Informative and effortlessly readable... Ultimately a reflection on humanity’s fraught but sustaining relationship with nature.” — Publishers Weekly

“Marc Hamer's uplifting writings shed some light on the velvety creatures burrowing beneath our countryside.” — National Geographic Traveller

“A beguiling mixture: part autobiography, part handbook, part travel book, part philosophical treatise. I’m happy to report that it succeeds on each level.” — Daily Mail


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