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Animals strike curious poses : essays
2017
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Summary
Beginning with Yuka, a 39,000 year old mummified woolly mammoth recently found in the Siberian permafrost, each of the 16 essays in Animals Strike Curious Poses investigates a different famous animal named and immortalized by humans. Modeled loosely after a medieval bestiary, these witty, playful, whipsmart essays traverse history, myth, science, and more, bringing each beast vibrantly to life.

Elena Passarello is an actor, a writer, and recipient of a 2015 Whiting Fellowship in nonfiction. Her first collection with Sarabande Books, Let Me Clear My Throat , won the gold medal for nonfiction at the 2013 Independent Publisher Awards. She lives in Corvallis, Oregon.


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*Starred Review* This phenomenal collection of essays documents the lives of particular animals from a wide range of species, following a structure similar to Passarello's previous Let Me Clear My Throat (2012), which explores the human voice through individual recording artists. This contemporary bestiary reaches back to Yuka, a mammoth frozen in ice for nearly 40,000 years, and up to the infamous case of Cecil the lion, murdered by an American dentist. Passarello treats her subjects with dexterous care, weaving narratives together in a way that investigates, honors, and complicates her subjects. One essay chronicles the life of Harriet, a 176-year-old tortoise, purportedly collected by Charles Darwin himself and celebrated at her final home in Australia by excitable naturalist Steve Irwin. Another traces the peculiar influence of Albrecht Dürer's fanciful woodcut of the then little-known rhinoceros, which circulated widely at a time when half the world was built on hearsay. An especially harrowing entry on Jumbo II catalogs the long tradition of pachyderm exploitation and abuse in American circuses. A lighter entry consists of a joke composed entirely of words used by Koko the gorilla, who understands sign language. Passarello has created a consistently original, thoroughly researched, altogether fascinating compendium.--Báez, Diego Copyright 2017 Booklist
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