On Animals
by Orlean, Susan

Introduction: Animalish1(18)
The It Bird
Show Dog
The Lady and the Tigers
Riding High
Little Wing
Animal Action
Where's Willy?
Carbonaro and Primavera
Lion Whisperer
The Rabbit Outbreak
The Perfect Beast
Lost Dog
Where Donkeys Deliver
Essay Credits239(2)
Illustration Credits241

Examining animal-human relationships through captivating stories she has written over the course of her career, the author, in this book that is equal parts wonderful and profound, celebrates the cross-species connections that grace our collective existence.

Susan Orlean has been a staff writer at&#160;<i>The New Yorker</i>&#160;since 1992. She is the&#160;<i>New York Times</i>&#160;bestselling author of seven books, including&#160;<i>The Library Book, Rin Tin Tin, Saturday Night,&#160;</i>and<i>&#160;The Orchid Thief</i>, which was made into the Academy Award&#8211;winning film&#160;<i>Adaptation</i>. She lives with her family and her animals in Los Angeles and may be reached at SusanOrlean.com and on Twitter @SusanOrlean.

Orlean confesses that she has been "animalish" her entire life. So begins the waggishly fun introduction to this ebulliently descriptive, robustly factual, occasionally alarming collection of animal-centric essays by a narrative nonfiction maestro whose books include Rin Tin Tin (2011). These animal adventures reach back to 1995 and range in focus from her beloved chickens to tigers in New Jersey and donkeys in Morocco. Orlean's deep pleasure in learning startling facts, her often wry tales about her personal life, her omnivorous attention to detail, and her juggler's skill with words yield vivid, provocative, amusing, and wondrous stories. She profiles people who race pigeons and care for pandas, a South African "lion whisperer," and a prizewinner on the dog-show circuit. Orlean thoughtfully and piquantly contrasts the marvels of animals and the damage humans do to them and their habitats, threatening their very survival. In the most recent piece, she tracks a deadly rabbit virus raging in New York City in sync with COVID. But there's also a lost-pet detective, valiant mules, and cherished oxen. A revelry for readers wild for animals and/or enamored of vibrant essays. HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: A boon for Orlean fans waiting for more after her best-selling The Library Book (2018). Copyright 2021 Booklist Reviews.

The beloved author gathers a wide-ranging selection of pieces about animals. "Animals have always been my style," writes Orlean at the beginning of her latest delightful book, a collection of articles that originally appeared in "slightly modified form" in the Atlantic, Smithsonian, and the New Yorker, where she has been a staff writer since 1992. The variety on display is especially pleasing. Some essays are classic New Yorker profiles: Who knew that tigers, near extinction in the wild, are common household pets? There are at least 15,000 in the U.S. Her subject, a New Jersey woman, keeps several dozen and has been fighting successful court battles over them for decades. Lions are not near extinction, however; in fact, there are too many. Even in Africa, far more live in captivity or on reserves than in the wild, and readers may be shocked at their fate. Cubs are cute, so animal parks profit by allowing visitors to play with them. With reserves at capacity, cubs who mature may end up shot in trophy hunts or in stalls on breeding farms to produce more cubs. In "The Rabbit Outbreak," Orlean writes about how rabbit meat was an American staple until replaced by beef and chicken after World War II, whereupon rabbit pet ownership surged. They are now "the third-most-popular pet in the country, ranking just behind dogs and cats." Readers may be aware of the kerfuffle following the hit movie Free Willy that led to a massive campaign to return the film's killer whale to the wild, and Orlean delivers a fascinating, if unedifying account. The author handles dogs like a virtuoso, with 10 hilarious pages on the wacky, expensive, but sometimes profitable life of a champion show dog. Among America's 65 million pet dogs (according to a 2003 report), 10 million go astray every year, and about half are recovered. Orlean engagingly recounts a lost-dog search of epic proportions. Another winner featuring the author's trademark blend of meticulous research and scintillating writing. Copyright Kirkus 2021 Kirkus/BPI Communications. All rights reserved.

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