Animals Strike Curious Poses
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Mr B's review
A collection of essays on nature, and human nature, by a writer with a zesty alternative style that injects humour and intrigue into everything she describes. Each piece features an animal from history named, and usually manipulated, by humans, but the voice and style changes frequently. There’s a tortoise-eye view of Darwin’s Galapagos expedition, accounts of various incredible and much-abused elephants and performing bears from history and even her own decidedly mixed childhood memories of watching a circus’ “live unicorn”.
Beginning with Yuka, a 39,000-year-old mummified woolly mammoth recently found in the Siberian permafrost, each of the sixteen essays in Animals Strike Curious Poses investigates a different famous animal named and immortalised by humans. Here are the starling that inspired Mozart with its song, Darwin’s tortoise Harriet, and in an extraordinary essay, Jumbo the elephant (and how they tried to electrocute him). Modelled loosely on a medieval bestiary, these witty , playful, provocative essays traverse history, myth, science and more, introducing a stunning new writer to British readers.
“I’ve spent decades reading books on the roles animals play in human cultures, but none have ever made me think, and feel, as much as this one. It’s a devastating meditation on our relationship to the natural world. It might be the best book on animals I’ve ever read. It’s also the only one that’s made me laugh out loud.” — Helen Macdonald * New York Times Book Review * “Stunning… Passarello’s keen wit is on display throughout as she raises questions about the uniqueness of humans…. A feast of surprising juxtapositions and gorgeous prose.” * Publishers Weekly, starred review * “This phenomenal collection documents the lives of particular animals from a wide range of species… Passarello treats her subjects with dextrous care, weaving narratives together in a way that investigates, honours, and complicates her subjects… Passarello has created a consistently original, thoroughly researched, altogether fascinating compendium.” * Booklist, starred review * “In Animals Strike Curious Poses Elena Passarello spins fantastic, wondrous, and true tall tales about species big and small. Her essays are dream-spaces of imagery and ideas…. This book will leave little doubt that Passarello is one our country’s most gifted young prose writers.” — Hector Tobar, author of Deep Down Dark and The Barbarian Nurseries “Animals Strike Curious Poses turns the bestiary inside out, holds the mummified mammoth heart up against our own, and, from the braided ventricles, springboards into intoxicating and animated meditations on our penchant for ownership via naming… This book is a gift to us from one of the best, most important, and most exciting essayists of the 21st century.” — Matthew Gavin Frank, author of The Mad Feast and Preparing the Ghost: An Essay Concerning the Giant Squid and Its First Photographer
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