The Red Hourglass: Lives of the Predators, by Gordon Grice
The black widow spider is notorious for eating her mate as they copulate, but how many of us know much more than that about this beautiful, mysterious, spider?
Grice collects black widows and keeps them in jars and studies them, and he tells us more than we care to know at times. But it is not just black widows that interest Grice, it is rattlesnakes, praying mantis, tarantula, pigs, dogs, and the recluse spider.
The Lives of the Predators is fascinating, strange, and scary, all at the same time. Grice writes with such vivid imagery that you can almost feel the hairy tarantula, and hear the particular sound of the black widows web as you brush through it.
Grice mixes us a venomous cocktail of personal accounts and tall tales; gruesome historic details that may have you questioning if you will ever eat pork again, and yet on the other hand he reveals how seemingly close humans still are to the animal kingdom.
As humans we feel that we are at the top of the food chain and that we have no natural predators who relish our flesh, but wait, that is not true at all! History reveals that as early as biblical times swine have eaten human corpses; in Africa leopards dine on humans regularly; and dogs are more dangerous to us than the wolf.
Grice's knowledge and research are impeccable. His interest in the life and death of his subjects is sometimes morbidly sadistic and it brings to mind an image of little boys who delight in tossing a poor grasshopper into a jar of red ants. But beside the morbidity is a side dish of humor when he describes the story of a man who was supposedly eaten by his hogs as, "?the man was old; he died of a heart attack or a stroke while feeding the pigs; and 'nothing was left of him but the shoes.' ?You have to be particularly suspicious of the heart attack diagnosed from the shoes."
After reading this book you will come away with a different awareness of both the animal kingdom and the insect world, and you can no longer look at a spider or a pig the same way, or your dog for that matter.
Copyright 2005 Cindy DeJager
Cindy DeJager owns Rosetta Stone Press, a publisher of metaphysical and mystical books. She writes book reviews of old and rare books, as well as sends out a monthly newsletter to local bookstores and libraries. You can find her reviews on her website at www.rosettastonepress.com/">http://www.rosettastonepress.com
Herman Wouk, the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of the Navy drama The Caine Mutiny, whose sweeping novels about World War II, the Holocaust and the creation of Israel made him one of the most popular writers of his generation and helped revitalize the genre of historical fiction, died May 17 at his home in Palm Springs, Calif. He was 10 days shy of his 104th birthday.
Faber emerged victorious at the British Book Awards 2019 on Monday evening (13th May), with Sally Rooney's Normal People scooping the coveted Book of the Year award. The book had earlier won the Fiction Book of the Year prize, while Faber stablemate Leila Slimani's Lullaby won the Debut Fiction category. The 90-year-old company also took the Independent Publisher of the Year gong in the trade section of the awards.
Jean Vanier, founder of L'Arche communities for adults with learning disabilities, living alongside those without them, has died aged 90.
In August 1964, having giving up his job teaching philosophy at the University of Toronto, he bought a small, rundown house without plumbing or electricity in the village of Trosly-Breuil, north of Paris, and invited two men with learning disabilities – Raphaël Simi and Philippe Seux – to share it with him. Both had been living in an asylum and were without family.
Today L'Arche (the ark) has 150 communities, in 38 countries, supporting 3,500 people with learning disabilities.
Vanier wrote 30 books on spirituality and community, including Community and Growth (1979), Becoming Human (1998), Befriending the Stranger (2005) and Life's Great Questions (2015). In 2015 he was awarded the £1.1m Templeton prize, for making "an exceptional contribution to affirming life's spiritual dimension".
The Poetry Foundation has announced Marilyn Nelson as the winner of the 2019 Ruth Lilly Poetry Prize, Naomi Shihab Nye the 2019–2021 Young People's Poet Laureate, and Terrance Hayes winner of the 2019 Pegasus Award for Poetry Criticism. The awards are sponsored and administered by the Poetry Foundation, an independent literary organization and publisher of Poetry magazine, and will be presented at the Pegasus Awards Ceremony at the Poetry Foundation in Chicago on Monday, June 10.
Novelist Ben Dolnick waxes lyrical on the benefits or ditching Netflix for a novel. And not just because a novelist is telling you to:
One night a couple of summers ago, the power went out and, unable to watch Netflix or engage in my customary internet fugue, I lit a candle and picked up a thriller by Ruth Rendell. For the first time in as long as I could remember, my sole source of entertainment for an evening was going to be a book...
Cengage and McGraw-Hill, two of the largest academic publishers remaining, have agreed to a merger on equal terms that is expected to close by early 2020, the companies announced yesterday.
Baker & Taylor has made it official: it is leaving the wholesale retail book market. The move was hinted at when it became public late last year that the company was in talks to sell its retail operations to Ingram and then in the departure over the last few months of key retail staff members. B&T will focus on its traditional core business of servicing libraries, as well as publisher services...
Paul Swydan, owner of the Silver Unicorn Bookstore, West Acton, Mass., wrote on Twitter, "It means I will make less money when I fill special orders for customers, because Baker & Taylor's sole competition offers a much lower discount." He added, "In the larger sense, it's another example of how Amazon is crippling this country in their mostly unchecked quest to monopolize any business they choose to focus on."
The New York Times takes on the tricky topic of YA authors being censored by readers within their own communities--focusing in particular on 26 year-old Amélie Wen Zhao who asked her publisher, Delacorte, to withdraw her debut novel, Blood Heir
, six months before publication because of complaints that it was culturally insensitive. Now, after some rewrites, she plans to publish.
See also an earlier article in The New Yorker
"I have a strategy of reading children's books to gain knowledge. I've found that in an adult reference book, if it's not a subject I'm interested in, I just can't get into it. I was thinking, what is the place in the library I can go to to get books tailored to make things interesting for uninterested readers? Boom. The children's section."
- James Holzhauer, Jeopardy mega-winner
The political corruption scandal roiling Baltimore, leading to an FBI raid of Mayor Catherine Pugh's house Thursday morning, all began with a children's book.
Pugh, who has been serving as the city's mayor since 2016, is at the center of a controversy that started with the revelation in March that she'd sold her children's books, the Healthy Holly series, to entities that have business deals with the city, including a $500,000 deal with the University of Maryland Medical System and a similar deal with health company Kaiser Permanente...