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The Animal Dialogues: Uncommon Encounters in the Wildby Craig Childs
Animal Dialogues is one of the best collections of nature writing I've read in years, which puts Craig Childs in the company of giants: Barry Lopez, Annie Dillard, John Muir, Aldo Leopold, and Terry Tempest Williams. I found myself wondering how Childs could possibly write such beautiful sentences. It's the strength of his subject matter: Animal Dialogues is a study in raw personal experience, richly interwoven with natural history and adventure, and infused with an expansive understanding of the animal kingdom. Childs finds magic in all creatures great and small, from grizzly bears on the Alaskan tundra and mountain goats in a lightning storm to rare toads in desert canyons and owls in forest snowstorms. The sum of these experiences is a powerful reminder that humans are but a small part of this planet, and the more we pay attention to the world around us, the more we gain in wonder and grace.
Synopses & Reviews
From one of the finest nature writers at work in America today — a lyrical, dramatic, illuminating tour of the hidden domain of wild animals.
Whether recalling the experience of being chased through the Grand Canyon by a bighorn sheep, swimming with sharks off the coast of British Columbia, watching a peregrine falcon perform acrobatic stunts at 200 miles per hour, or engaging in a tense face-off with a mountain lion near a desert waterhole, Craig Childs captures the moment so vividly that he puts the reader in his boots.
Each of the forty brief, compelling narratives in The Animal Dialogues focuses on the author's own encounter with a particular species and is replete with astonishing facts about the species' behavior, habitat, breeding, and lifespan. But the glory of each essay lies in Childs's ability to portray the sometimes brutal beauty of the wilderness, to capture the individual essence of wild creatures, to transport the reader beyond the human realm and deep inside the animal kingdom.
"In these eloquent essays, naturalist and adventurer Childs (House of Rain) describes some of his extraordinary experiences with creatures — from wasps, red-spotted toads and hummingbirds to grizzly bears, coyotes and jaguars. Seeking entre into animal societies, he interprets messages left in marks on the ground and in scents on leaves and trees, and communicates with animals directly using their own language of stares, gestures, postures, sounds, scents and gaits. He goes looking for animals alone in hazardous wilderness areas — tracking mountain goats in Colorado's Gore Range or surprising a secret society of ravens in a canyon in Utah. Always longing to be at one with animals, he is not afraid to climb an aspen to see the world from a porcupine's perspective, run with a herd of elk or wonder how it would feel to jump from a plane and fly with a bald eagle. Childs's captivating essays, rich in sensuous imagery (the porcupine 'looks like a mop, a bundle of ponderosa pine needles, a mobile hairstyle'), are hauntingly beautiful and replete with evocative observations of animal life. 42 b&w illus." Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
Book News Annotation:
Colorado-based naturalist Childs presents another volume of vignettes, some taken from his 1997 Crossing Paths and other written since then. Each describes an encounter with a non-human animal, among them raccoon, raven, pronghorn antelope, and praying mantis. He has not indexed the collection. Annotation ©2008 Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
THE ANIMAL DIALOGUES tells of Craig Childs' own chilling experiences among the grizzlies of the Arctic, sharks off the coast of British Columbia and in the turquoise waters of Central America, jaguars in the bush of northern Mexico, mountain lions, elk, Bighorn Sheep, and others. More than chilling, however, these stories are lyrical, enchanting, and reach beyond what one commonly assumes an "animal story" is or should be. THE ANIMAL DIALOGUES is a book about another world that exists alongside our own, an entire realm of languages and interactions that humans rarely get the chance to witness.
From one of the finest nature writers at work comes a lyrical, dramatic, illuminating tour of the hidden domain of wild animals. Each of the 40 brief narratives focuses on the authors own encounter and is replete with facts about the species behavior, habitat, breeding, and lifespan.
About the Author
Craig Childs — naturalist, adventurer, desert ecologist, and frequent contributor to National Public Radio's Morning Edition — lives in Crawford, Colorado. His previous books include House of Rain, The Way Out, The Secret Knowledge of Water and Soul of Nowhere.
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