Synopses & Reviews
When viewed from a quiet beach, the ocean, with its rolling waves and vast expanse, can seem calm, even serene. But hidden beneath the sea’s waves are a staggering abundance and variety of active creatures, engaged in the never-ending struggles of life—to reproduce, to eat, and to avoid being eaten.
With Sex, Drugs, and Sea Slime, marine scientist Ellen Prager takes us deep into the sea to introduce an astonishing cast of fascinating and bizarre creatures that make the salty depths their home. From the tiny but voracious arrow worms whose rapacious ways may lead to death by overeating, to the lobsters that battle rivals or seduce mates with their urine, to the sea’s masters of disguise, the octopuses, Prager not only brings to life the ocean’s strange creatures, but also reveals the ways they interact as predators, prey, or potential mates. And while these animals make for some jaw-dropping stories—witness the sea cucumber, which ejects its own intestines to confuse predators, or the hagfish that ties itself into a knot to keep from suffocating in its own slime—there’s far more to Prager’s account than her ever-entertaining anecdotes: again and again, she illustrates the crucial connections between life in the ocean and humankind, in everything from our food supply to our economy, and in drug discovery, biomedical research, and popular culture.
Written with a diver’s love of the ocean, a novelist’s skill at storytelling, and a scientist’s deep knowledge, Sex, Drugs, and Sea Slime enchants as it educates, enthralling us with the wealth of life in the sea—and reminding us of the need to protect it.
Beginning with the Neapolitan saying, and#147;Every cockroach is beautiful to its mother,and#8221; Schweid goes on to explain how cockroaches have been living on earth since long before humans, and continue to thriveand#151;over five thousand species of themand#151;everywhere we live, and many places we donand#8217;t.and#160; As Schweid writes in his new foreword, people always remember their encounters with cockroaches, so the bugs provide him with memorable stories about what scares us, what inspires us, what weand#8217;re willing to put up with, and what we need.and#160; Illustrated with photographs and drawings, enlivened with references from literature, interviews with exterminators and biologists, and accounts from the authorand#8217;s own travels, this witty and thoughtful compendium will tell you more than you want to know about cockroaches . . . and quite a bit about the human race as well.
Skittering figures of urban legendand#151;and a ubiquitous realityand#151;cockroaches are nearly as abhorred as they are ancient. Even as our efforts to exterminate them have developed into ever more complex forms of chemical warfare, roachesand#8217; basic design of six legs, two hypersensitive antennae, and one set of voracious mandibles has persisted unchanged for millions of years. But as Richard Schweid shows in The Cockroach Papers
, while some species of these evolutionary superstars do indeed plague our kitchens and restaurants, exacerbate our asthma, and carry disease, our belief in their total villainy is ultimately misplaced.
Traveling from New York City to Louisiana, Mexico, Nicaragua, and Morocco, Schweid blends stories of his own squirm-inducing roach encounters with meticulous research to spin a tale both humorous and harrowing. As he investigates roachesand#8217; more nefarious interactions with our speciesand#151;particularly with those of us living at the margins of societyand#151;Schweid also explores their astonishing diversity, how they mate, what theyand#8217;ll eat, and what weand#8217;ve written about them (from Kafka and Nelson Algren to archy and mehitabel). Knowledge soon turns into respect, and Schweid looks beyond his own fears to arrive at an uncomfortable truth: We humans are no more peaceful, tidy, or responsible about taking care of the Earth or each other than these tiny creatures that swarm in the dark corners of our minds, homes, and cereal boxes.
About the Author
Richard Schweid is a journalist and documentarian living in Barcelona. He is the author of many books, including Consider the Eel: A Natural and Gastronomic History, Cheand#39;s Chevrolet, Fideland#39;s Oldsmobile: On the Road in Cuba, and Hereafter: Searching for Immortality.
Table of Contents
A Note on the Title
1. The Invisible Crowd
2. Mega-Slime, Seduction, and Shape-Shifting
3. Lets Talk Snails
4. The Riddle of the Reef
5. Armed and Dangerous
6. Cabinet of Curiosities
8. Radical Living
9. Danger Looms
10. The Good News
11. How You Can Help
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