...usurps the reader's expectations ... Were it nothing else, Strange Harvests would be an impressive addition to the modern travelogue, painting some of the world's most remote terrain in visceral and sometimes breathtaking prose ... But unlike so many slick travel narratives accepting the landscape at face value, strengthening the state-sponsored veneer, Strange Harvests probes much deeper ... an...engrossing read, one made even more so by the author's honesty, his willingness to admit the disappointments ... If Strange Harvests never quite offers an answer, never quite finds that perfect symbiosis, it's nevertheless a thought-provoking tour.
The themes of economic inequality and cultural disruption, combined with issues of animal husbandry and ecology, make Strange Harvests a deeper, more thoughtful narrative than readers may expect. Posnett’s essays far and meaningfully exceed the promise of his title and show this debut author to be more than worthy of comparisons to other questing and curious nonfiction writers, such as Edward Humes, David Kirby, and Heather Rogers.
...[an] evocative look at precious natural objects ... for the most part, [Posnett] is careful not to overextend his reach and concentrates on delivering scrupulous descriptions of his subjects and their locales ... In the best passages, he capture the harvesters at work, from an Icelandic priest gently lifting eiderdown from abandoned nests, to a Borneo bird nest harvester trodding in flip-flops through ankle-deep guano. Posnett aims to record 'for posterity' the wondrous details of these objects—and he succeeds marvelously.
In this unique curio cabinet of a book, Posnett discusses seven little-known natural wonders ... Posnett’s fascination is evident as he unearths the backstories of these natural objects, comparing and contrasting their similarities and differences ... One theme that runs throughout this book is exploitation—the exploitation that takes place whether you’re making luxury items such as fluffy eiderdown quilts or jackets from fine sea silk or vicuña fiber, or you’re harvesting the nests of certain birds to satisfy the huge market for this delicacy ... This is the takeaway from Strange Harvests: How can we best use the natural resources we covet without exploiting them and damaging the earth?
It is a challenge to categorize both the book and its author ... Each of the seven chapters details...a quest into the exotic and the wilderness in search of some organic golden fleece that has been commodified for luxury consumption. Each has its own fascination ... Throughout the book, the author’s writing derives less from naturalists and environmentalists and more from the likes of Borges and Calvino. An engrossing tale of wonder.