The Fly Trap By Fredrik Sjoberg
I have no idea where I first heard about this book. It must have been during the phase when I was obsessed with Scandinavian authors. Regardless, it has been sitting in my Audible library for quite some time. Finally, behind the wheel with nothing but open road and bored with my playlist, I turned on Sjoberg’s The Fly Trap. It starts off on a theater stage, narrated by a young production assistant. It is novel-esque in its approach, and it wasn’t until well into the second chapter that I realized I was actually listening to a memoir. A memoir of an entomologist, to be exact. A memoir of a Swedish man obsessed with hoverflies. Go figure. I am quite certain that if I had known it was a book about flies, I never would have downloaded it. I hate flies. They are annoying, at best. They ruin any picnic, and drive me to the brink of insanity while camping. But before I knew what hit me, I found myself captivated by this book and the author’s unique style. He is quirky, humorous, and has a beautiful way with words. For example, when referring to the pins he uses to ‘impale’ his specimens he writes:
“the thickest is a stiff as a nail, while the thinnest, 000, is as capricious as a French verb.”
Lovely. Sjoberg introduces the reader to the nuances of hoverflies, all the while sharing stories of worldly concepts such as art history, the landscape, literature, the theater, even geography and plate tectonics. Granted, it is not for everyone …. hence the 3 out of 5 stars. And it isn’t really a cohesive memoir, but rather a collection of essays. But honestly, other than a few slow-moving parts I found this book to be a fascinating read. I definitely know more about hoverflies and the art of catching them than I did when I started. Although I must admit that I do not have any greater appreciation for them. I will still curse them while lying in my tent. But I will also reflect back upon Sjoberg’s passion for them. We should all be so lucky, right? To be able to find your passion, pursue it, write about it, and inspire others to it. I am honestly, quite in awe of him. In the spirit of Sjoberg’s message, one can find beauty in unexpected places — even in books about flies. Bravo, Fredrik. Bravo.
Check out my recipe for Shoo Fly Pie to pair with this fun read!