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Natural Acts: A Sidelong View of Science and…

Natural Acts: A Sidelong View of Science and Nature (1985)

by David Quammen

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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319449,713 (4.02)12



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Showing 4 of 4
If you'd rather have your "news of the weird" buried under a pile of forced and mixed metaphors, this is your guy. Just awful writing, the painful attempts to include literary references make it worse still. ( )
1 vote pilastr | Jul 31, 2014 |
This author has a style that, at his best, is a cross between Stephen J. Gould and Edward Abbey. The problem is, while the book started out very promising, with the most enjoyable writing I've read all year, it soon loses steam. When he writes about the quirks and oddities of the animal kingdom, he is not to be beat, but once he turns his attention to the human animal, the book drops into the ordinary. The people he writes about are interesting, and could perhaps make a good book, and in fact, did make a good book, but the stories were a total disappointment after the solid beginning of the first few chapters, a promise of something different and special that was never quite fulfilled. Perhaps if the author had excised those chapters, and focused on just the human stories, the lack would never have been noticed; or if he had ended with those wonderful notes instead of beginning, it would have seemed more like a sublime conclusion than an unfulfilled promise. Either way, the book has some real strong points, but don't expect it to be consistent. ( )
1 vote Devil_llama | Jul 20, 2011 |
Octopus-wrestling, vampire moths, and disaffected crows - oh my! I like David Quammen. More to the point, I want to be David Quammen. Back in the early 1980's, with neither scientific nor journalistic background, he stumbled into a sweet gig writing about the natural world for Outside Magzine, and he's never looked back.

'Natural Acts' was the title of that Outside column and the title of a 1985 collection of pieces from that column. It's back, and it's bigger and better than before with the addition of longer and more recent essays in this expanded edition.

Quammen's humor, his broad liberal arts view of the world, and a pen honed over decades make him one of the most engaging science writers around.
[ full review ] ( )
3 vote markflanagan | May 9, 2008 |
This collection is hard to find, but it's a great one. Quammen's essays are phenomenal. He's the working man's biology writer. You don't have to have a degree to know what he's talking about, and I think that's because he took an English degree rather than biology. So he's just a great writer whose love of nature shines through in his essays. ( )
1 vote BeaverMeyer | Jul 29, 2007 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
David Quammenprimary authorall editionscalculated
Haynes, LorenCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0380717387, Paperback)

David Quammen is a naturalist, writer, and literary scholar who can turn from William Faulkner to theories of demographic stochasticity on a dime--or a comma. Natural Acts, a collection of Quammen's columns by the same name from Outside magazine, highlights his many interests. In its pages, he touches on Malthusian population dynamics, the mating habits of butterflies and snakes, Tycho Brahe's quest for the stars, magnolia trees, whales, and deserts--to name just a few of the matters that pass beneath his bemused gaze. This is humanely wrought science writing at its best. --Gregory McNamee

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:00:49 -0400)

(see all 3 descriptions)

In this updated edition of his first essay collection, Quammen's lively curiosity leads him from New Mexico to Romania, from the Congo to the Amazon, asking questions about the redeeming merits of mosquitoes, the relationship between dinosaurs and a dyslexic Vietnam vet, and the uses of cloning. This edition has a new introduction including "Planet of Weeds" and the Megatransect series.… (more)

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W.W. Norton

2 editions of this book were published by W.W. Norton.

Editions: 0393058050, 0393333604

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