Consilience Productions
Book Picks

The Beauty of the Beastly
by Natalie Angier
published by Houghton Mifflin
© 1995 by Natalie Angier

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From Booklist
Angier, a Pulitzer Prize-winning science writer for the New York Times, admits that she anthropomorphizes "shamelessly," a perspective that imbues her marvelous essays with a palpable delight in life's madcap ingenuity. Not only does every creature, even a roundworm, have consciousness, even personality, but under Angier's perspicacious scrutiny, so do molecules. Although terrified of cockroaches as a child, Angier has become a champion of roaches and their ilk--" the bloodsuckers, the low lowlifes, and the brutes" --and writes glowingly about such intriguing creatures as scorpions, pit vipers, and parasites. She has organized her widely varied and snappily composed essays under such headings as "Loving" (monogamy is not evolution's favored practice), "Dancing" (DNA's graceful and efficient choreography), "Slithering" (creepy crawlers), "Adapting" (the importance of play in the development of muscle tissue and the brain), "Healing" (what menstruation really achieves), "Creating" (the indisputable link between art and madness), and "Dying." In every essay, Angier offers us something new to ponder, whether she's proving that dolphins aren't cute, describing androstenedione, the female equivalent of testosterone, or explaining how joy actually promotes health. --- Donna Seaman

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