Books on GIF #6 — 'Hill' by Jean Giono


Books on GIF is a review and discussion of random books told with the help of GIFs. We'll cover fiction, nonfiction and the occasional graphic novel.

This Sunday's book is 'Hill' by Jean Giono.


This was a strange little book — part acid trip, part nature hike, part dystopian supernatural horror show.

.Four centuries-old houses, called the Bastides Blanches, stand on the side of a hill somewhere in Provence, France. Roughly a dozen people live there and cultivate the surrounding land. Apparently, they went too far because the natural world gets angry and is out for revenge!

The old man has a stroke and sees strange visions of snakes coming out of his fingers. (Note: Never search "snake fingers" on Giphy. Trust me.)

The fountain where they get their drinking water suddenly goes dry.

A cat shows up and they worry it's the harbinger of death.

At last there is a terrible fire. The men of the Bastides try to fight it, but it consumes nearly everything — the crops, the woods — and kills one of them. Only the houses are spared.

Nature has exacted its vengeance.

But do these people learn?

This book was set more than a century ago, but its lesson is still valuable today in our era of global warming, terrible storms and rising sea levels: Take care of the land, or it will take care of you.

'Hill' (Colline), by Jean Giono, was originally published in 1929. It was translated from French and republished in 2016 by The New York Review of Books. 112 pages.

What's next? In the coming weeks, I'll review 'Basquiat: A Quick Killing in Art,' by Phoebe Hoban, and 'A Time for Everything,' by Karl Ove Knausgaard, among others.

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