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Attracted to Animals

When I was young, a flood in my home wiped out the children’s books belonging to my three elder siblings. What to do?

Someone had brought into the house a few issues of the How & Why Wonder Books. This is one of them:

As I couldn’t yet read, my long-suffering sister had to spend part of each night reading to me from the above title, and others. After a while, and probably to save her sanity, she started skipping this or that animal. But by now I had memorized the text, so I’d know, and tell her she had left the rhino out. She’d sigh, just once, and go back to the part she had hoped I would not have missed.

Last year I came across a review of the first volume of Handbook of the Mammals of the World: Carnivores put out by Lynx of Spain. Online I learned that volume 1 and volume 2, Hoofed Mammals, could be purchased together for  a better price than each single volume. I couldn’t resist, and I’m glad I didn’t. They bring me back to those early days, only they are aimed at grown-ups: there’s more information, the pictures are great, and there’s a lot of text. The books, if dropped, could crush small bones. They’re handsome, with small maps inset, plates, class descriptions, spread of each species, and other matter. For the animal junkie in you, or in someone you know, these books are highly recommended. There are six future volumes, too. Here are the covers of volumes 1 and 2:

  • Jeff Bursey is a literary critic and author of the picaresque novel Mirrors on which dust has fallen and the political satire Verbatim: A Novel, both of which take place in the same fictional Canadian province. His newest book, Centring the Margins: Essays and Reviews, is a collection of literary criticism that appeared in American Book Review, Books in Canada, The Review of Contemporary Fiction, The Quarterly Conversation, and The Winnipeg Review, among other places. He’s a Contributing Editor at The Winnipeg Review, an Associate Editor at Lee Thompson’s Galleon, and a Special Correspondent for Numéro Cinq. He makes his home on Prince Edward Island in Canada’s Far East.

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