Monday, November 7, 2011

Week 41: The Animal Dialogues: Uncommon Encounters in the Wild, by Craig Childs

Sometimes it is impossible not to judge a book by its cover. I saw this book in the store and its beautiful cover sucked me in. Plus, what was not to like? A book about chance encounters with wildlife, segmented by the type of animal? Sign me up. I had returned from a camping trip out West and was longing to be in nature again. Unfortunately, I felt somewhat disappointed by this book. I am not sure why, but I think it has to do with the author himself. He’s not wholly appealing, and at times comes across as a bit pompous. The book’s chapters are each named after a specific animal, and in that chapter, Childs tells a story of his real-life encounter with that animal. I learned a few interesting tidbits (porcupines’ quills contain a natural antibiotic, because porcupines are apparently very clumsy and stick themselves a lot) and found certain parts of the book thrilling (Childs finds himself stalked by a mountain lion). Childs constructed and lived in a tipi in Colorado for a while, something I can dig. But when he tells his incredulous grandfather that it is “simply something he must do”, it’s like, OK guy. Take it down a notch. You want to live in a tipi, and that’s cool, but don’t proclaim yourself to be some sort of earth prophet. That tone persists and kind of ruined the book in places, but overall, it’s still an engaging read. Childs’ arrogance is something to learn from in the sense that he does not panic when confronted with a wild animal, but rather handles the situation sensibly. If one can take that perspective, as opposed to being annoyed, then I would recommend this book to any nature lover.

No comments:

Post a Comment