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Empty Bed Bluesby George Garrett
Synopses & Reviews
Written by the president of the nation’s number-one zoo, Sailing with Noah is an intensely personal, behind-the-scenes look at modern zoos. Jeffrey P. Bonner, who was trained as an anthropologist and came to the zoo world quite by accident, shares some of the most compelling stories ever told about contemporary zoos. The stories jump between zoos in different cities and between countries on different continents. Some are fun and funny. Others are sad, even tragic. Pete Hoskins, the director of the Philadelphia Zoo, is in bed, sound asleep, when his phone rings. . . . “There’s been a fire in the World of Primates,” he is told. “You’ve got to get over here.” Whatever he has been dreaming, it is nothing like the nightmare he will find now that he is awake. . . . “They’re all gone. They’re all gone.” All of the animals in the building—the gorillas, the lemurs, the orangutans, and the gibbons—all twenty-three of them are dead.
Written in a lively, accessible style, Sailing with Noah explores the role of zoos in today’s society and their future as institutions of education, conservation, and research. Along the way, Bonner relates a variety of true stories about animals and those who care for them (or abuse them), offering his perspective on heavily publicized incidents and describing less-well-known events with compassion and humor in turn. By bringing the stories of the animals’ lives before us, Bonner gives them a voice. He strongly believes that zoos must act for living things, and he argues that conservation is a shared responsibility of all mankind. This book helps us to understand why biodiversity is important and what it means to be a steward of life on earth.
From the day-to-day aspects of caring for some of the world’s most exotic creatures to the role of zoos as field conservation organizations, saving wild things in wild places, this book takes the reader on an incredible journey—a journey that begins within the zoo and continues around the globe. Everyone—from zoo visitors to animal lovers to professional conservationists, the young and old alike—will be fascinated by this extraordinary book.
The fifteen stories of George Garrett’s Empty Bed Blues (his eighth book-length collection) are vintage Garrett—no two alike—with each moving, one way and another, in new and daring directions. His stories are deeply concerned with the old verities of love and death and filled with the joys and woes of characters who come to life and command our attention.
Diversity is the key word for Garrett’s short fiction. He works in every known form and invents a few himself. In “A Story Goes with It,” Garrett fondly remembers an old friend while retelling a story the man once told him. Most of it is probably not accurate, as Garrett is quick to admit, but the mixture of fact with fiction makes for an entertaining read. His stories turn like the sharp curves of a mountain road, abruptly changing from a fond trip down memory lane to a sleazy reporter’s quest along the backroads for the ultimate crime story in “Pornographers.” He tops off his collection with “A Short History of the Civil War,” a series of poems written by two participants: one a Confederate, the other a Yankee.
In the marriage of fact and fiction, of comedy and pathos, and the music of many voices, the stories of Empty Bed Blues reconfirm the judgment of novelist and story writer Richard Bausch, who said in 1998: “There is no writer on the American scene with a more versatile, more eclectic, or more restless talent than George Garrett.”
About the Author
"Empty Bed Blues is a startling collection of stories and mostly fictional reminiscences that are laid before our eyes by a master of the written word. They range from the Elizabethan age to our own engaging times. They are not only skillfully constructed but also undergirded by irony and bawdy humor. George Garrett is an artist who uses the English language as a brush to create richly decorated canvases before the eye and mind.”—William Hoffman
“Garrett is a major writer, and these stories are full of snap and verve and unpredictable turns. . . . It’s thrilling to see a writer like him still at the very top of his form. My admiration for him and his work is stronger than ever.”
Joey Singletree is the name, and true crime is my game. You know what I mean. I hover in thin air like a lazy buzzard waiting for a meal. World that we live in, sooner rather than later somebody will shoot up a school yard or an abortion clinic. Someone will torture and murder a couple of kids or some old lady living alone. Sooner rather than later there will be another abduction and rape. Something maybe to raise the eyebrows a little. Something that may turn out to be good material and I can get at least an article, maybe even a book out of it.
It's a living.
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