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piiskoor

Another fine mess

Reader fan critic teacher reader fan.

Currently reading

McGlue
Ottessa Moshfegh
Knife Fight and Other Struggles
David Nickle
Far from the Tree: Parents, Children, and the Search for Identity
Andrew Solomon
The Good Lord Bird
James McBride
Ancillary Justice
Ann Leckie
Our Underachieving Colleges: A Candid Look at How Much Students Learn and Why They Should Be Learning More (New Edition)
Derek Bok
Dissident Gardens
Jonathan Lethem
Nightmare Movies: Horror on Screen Since the 1960s
Kim Newman
The Information: A History, a Theory, a Flood
James Gleick
Complete Novels
Dashiell Hammett, Steven Marcus
Spillover: Animal Infections and the Next Human Pandemic - David Quammen Outstanding.

Every couple pages, in passing, details and facts that amplified the sense of awe that--more than the fear inherent in the history and all-too-likely future of viral pandemics--fuels this book:

One in every four species of mammal is a bat.

The narrative threads a lushly-digressive exploration of the fecundity of ecology and evolution, a grounded procedural intent on practitioners at work, periodic explications (as much celebration) of how science works, precision-tooled travelogues of location and culture... in a style that is rich, readable, often beautifully funny and alive:

The sooty mangabey (Cercocebus atys) is a smoky-gray creature with a dark face and hands, white eyebrows, and flaring white muttonchops, not nearly so decorative as many monkeys on the continent but arresting in its way, like an elderly chimney sweep of dapper tonsorial habits.

And then there's the core content: an often brilliant examination of how viruses jump species--how it's happened, what it portends.

It's strange to say about a book focused on the threat of major pandemics, but a fantastic read.