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
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Betty Ballantine, half of a groundbreaking husband-and-wife publishing team that helped invent the modern paperback and vastly expand the market for science fiction and other genres through such blockbusters as "The Hobbit" and "Fahrenheit 451," has died aged 99.
She was just 20 and attending school in England, in 1939, when she met and married 23-year-old Ian Ballantine, an American at the London School of Economics. Using a $500 wedding gift from Betty's father, the Ballantines started out as importers of Penguin paperbacks from England and founded two enduring imprints: Bantam Books and Ballantine Books, both now part of Penguin Random House.
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The New York Times reviewer wrote: "Rosamunde Pilcher, where have you been all my life?" It sat in the bestseller list for 49 weeks in hardback and then tipped Tom Wolfe off the No 1 spot in paperback. The Shell Seekers was translated into more than 40 languages, selling around 10m copies.
Pilcher, who has died aged 94, wrote completely absorbing page-turners, taking what was called "romantic fiction" to an altogether higher, wittier level...
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JD Salinger's son has confirmed for the first time that the late author of The Catcher in the Rye wrote a significant amount of work that has never been seen, and that he and his father's widow are "going as fast as we freaking can" to get it ready for publication.
Salinger died in 2010, leaving behind a small but perfectly formed body of published work that has not been added to since 1965's New Yorker story, "Hapworth 16, 1924." Rumors have circulated for years that the creator of one of the 20th century's most enduring characters, Holden Caulfield, continued to write over the ensuing decades he spent in the New Hampshire village of Cornish, far from public view.
In an exclusive interview with the Guardian, his son Matt Salinger has finally revealed, definitively, that his father never stopped writing and that "all of what he wrote will at some point be shared."
One of the biggest stars to come out of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, last week wasn't a CEO or a head of state or a venture capitalist. It was Rutger Bregman, a Dutch journalist and historian, who used his speaking time at the conference to lambaste the rich attendees for failing to talk about the one thing we know could fight wealth inequality: raising taxes for the kind of people who go to Davos.
The winner of Australia's richest literary prize did not attend the ceremony. His absence was not by choice.
Behrouz Boochani, whose debut book won both the Aus$25,000 non-fiction prize at the Victorian premier's literary awards and the Aus$100,000 Victorian prize for literature on Thursday night, is not allowed into Australia.
The Kurdish Iranian writer is an asylum seeker who has been kept in purgatory on Manus Island in Papua New Guinea for almost six years, first behind the wire of the Australian offshore detention centre, and then in alternative accommodation on the island.
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Steve Cavendish, a former editor of the Nashville Scene and Washington City Paper, writes about the dire state of local newspapers, and his hopes that his new venture, to relaunch the Nashville Banner online as a nonprofit, will provide a model that will revitalize local media:
Wednesday was a bloodbath for journalists. BuzzFeed said it would lay off 15 percent of its employees, and Verizon Media announced it would cut 7 percent from its newsrooms at HuffPost, AOL and Yahoo. Worst of all, a wave of layoffs tore through Gannett newsrooms across the country that day, hitting staffs that had already been thinned by years of nearly annual cuts. In December, Gannett's USA Today Network president, Maribel Wadsworth, told her employees that the nation's largest-circulation newspaper chain "will be a smaller company" in the future and, well, the future is now. Wadsworth is facing a lot of pressures: Print revenue is down, digital and mobile revenue aren't nearly enough, and now a hedge fund promising even deeper cuts wants to acquire the company. If the future of corporate news operations looks bleak, that's because it is.
In Tennessee, we've been watching the slow-motion destruction of our news institutions under Gannett for a few decades now, and the idea that things are about to get even worse is appalling. As badly as the country needs strong coverage of national news these days, the local news landscape is important, too. And what happened here mirrors what's already happened in city after city.