I bought Three Bags Full while visiting my friend Tina’s bookstore PAPERBACK EXCHANGE in Neenah, Wisconsin. Tina’s shop is stuffed like ours with mazes of shelves towering to the moon, and I bonked myself on the head with this book while reaching for another. (No harm; it’s a paperback!)
When a book chooses you, you should pay attention.
Because Three Bags Full is a lot of fun. When their shepherd is murdered, the flock must sort out whodunit, but then they have to get the human herd to understand who, and how, and why. The best parts of the book are when the sheep react in very sheeply ways to things around them. They create a memorial field to their shepherd, but then they eat all the really tasty plants out of it, sheepishly. (Heh, sorry couldn’t resist.)
The language in the book has survived translation very well (being originally in German) and there are some lovely literary passages in addition to the sheep psychology:
“The sea looked as if it had been licked clean, blue and clear and smooth, and there were a few woolly little clouds in the sky. Legend said that these clouds were sheep who had simply wandered over the cliff tops one day, special sheep who now went on grazing in the sky and were never shorn. In any case, they were a good sign.”
That kind of thing. I liked the juxtaposition of what the sheep were thinking within their own limitations–their fear of blood smells, their herd instinct, their natural tendencies to forget what they were doing because of food–but I also liked the casual observations of humanity that were so easy to get, seeing ourselves as the sheep might see us:
“Maple thought optimistically that human beings, on their good days, weren’t much dimmer than sheep. Or at least, not much dimmer than dim sheep.”
Three Bags Full is a perfect beach read for someone who wants a fun, light-yet-insightful book that gives you a pleasant pick-me-up, murder notwithstanding. Two hooves up.