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On Animals av Susan Orlean

On Animals (utgåvan 2021)

av Susan Orlean (Författare)

MedlemmarRecensionerPopularitetGenomsnittligt betygOmnämnanden
706307,873 (4)9
Titel:On Animals
Författare:Susan Orlean (Författare)
Info:Avid Reader Press / Simon & Schuster (2021), 256 pages
Samlingar:2021 Books Read, Ditt bibliotek, My library read, Given away, Non-fiction


On Animals av Susan Orlean


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On Animals is a collection of fifteen stories/essays about a variety of animals, from dogs to whales to donkeys. Each chapter is a separate story from the next one and each chapter discusses the animal-human relationship between the animal and the human they interact with. Some of the stories are very touching while others are so very sad. The book, overall, is an easy read. Animal lovers will love the writing style. Despite some of the sad storylines, which the author does not harp on, the book is well written and enjoyable. Highly recommend. ( )
  BridgetteS | Nov 21, 2021 |
"Humankind has ended up mediating almost every aspect of the natural world, muddling the notion of what being truly wild can really mean anymore."

"Every corny thing that's said about living with nature--being in harmony with the earth, feeling the cycle of the seasons--happens to be true."

These essays are bookmarked by the experience of buying her own farm and the animals she shared this time with. Her love of animals, her curiosity, her enthusiasm is readily apparent, it draws the reader into her various subjects. From racing pigeons, to pandas, mules, a show dog and his life and a missing dog. Never knew there were dog detectives, agencies. I found the chapter on lions both embracing and sad. I always disposed big game hunting, but after reading this I absolutely hate them. The chapter on donkeys in Morocco was so interesting her the donkeys are essential because in the Fez medina the streets are too narrow for other forms of transportation.

A well researched book, she actually visited these places, met with the people within. It is at times humorous, sometimes despairing but always informative and interesting.

ARC from Edelweiss ( )
  Beamis12 | Nov 4, 2021 |
On Animals by Susan Orlean is a very highly recommended entertaining and thoughtful collection of fifteen essays about animals.

Susan Orlean has, as she writes, always been "animalish," something people who have a relationship or interactions with animals will understand. In this collection of essays, previously published in The New Yorker, The Atlantic, and Smithsonian Magazine (the earliest from 1996), she covers a wide variety of animals and animal-human relationships, including: chickens, show dogs, tigers, mules, homing pigeons, animal actors, Keiko the killer whale, oxen, taxidermy, lions, rabbits, pandas, missing dogs, donkeys, and life on a hobby farm. There should be an essay within this collection that will appeal to almost everyone.

What sets this collection apart is the excellent quality of the writing and the variety of the essays. Admittedly, some of the earlier essays, particularly that of Keiko, are dated and perhaps should have included an update. Orlean is not just writing about the particular animal, she's depicting the animals in a specific setting and often time and place. The homing pigeons story, "Little Wing," involves a teenager and her homing pigeons. Biff is the boxer who was a winning show dog. Kevin Richardson is known as the "lion whisperer." Two essays involve the donkeys which seemed to be everywhere in Morocco, and the common sight of oxen in Cuba. She writes about the New Jersey woman kept 23 tigers in her yard. Did you know that most rabbits have the ability to pretend that they’re healthy even when they’re quite sick. And Orleans details the work involved with raising chickens as well a caring for a large variety of animals. And this is just a small part of the topics covered.

Overall this is a very strong collection that should hold the interest of most readers throughout, although, as with any collection of stories, some will resonate more with various readers than others. I found it delightful, perceptive, and engaging, just as I have found other books by Orlean.
Disclosure: My review copy was courtesy of Simon & Schuster.
https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/4283221100 ( )
  SheTreadsSoftly | Oct 11, 2021 |
*I received an ARC in exchange for an honest review.*

Though I never met her, Susan Orlean and I are exact contemporaries, and co-alums of the University of Michigan, 1976. We are both animal lovers. I settled in to this with some enjoyable anticipation. It didn’t last long.
Within a few pages, I was cocking an eyebrow with puzzlement: as a student, she spends an unexpected windfall on an Irish setter puppy, while living in a rented college-town apartment, with crazy hours and unsympathetic landlords (yes, I remember it well…). A few pages and years later, when she moves to Manhattan with her now-elderly setter, she worries because the dog had “never lived in an apartment.” A new boyfriend impresses her by bringing a friend with a fully-grown lion to her apartment. She decides she’d like to have only animals with red hair. And then she falls in love with chickens based on a Martha Stewart television show – whose chickens were always a marketing tool, and who sighs that she’ll “never get another Egyptian Fayoumi again” after the hen froze to death. Orlean seems oblivious to any problem with any of this. Throughout most of these essays, reprinted largely from The New Yorker and Smithsonian magazines, there is an unsettling sense of someone for whom animals are interesting and appealing, and some of whom she comes to be fond of, but who are more accoutrements, charming rural accessories, or colorful topics for an essay than individual, thinking, feeling, “complete” beings in their own right. She is frequently glib, surprisingly callous. There is an otherwise lovely vignette about the role of oxen in the agriculture of Cuba over the decades of pre- and post-Soviet dominion, and the character of these highly-valued animals – but she can’t resist a flippant comment about an ox who broke into a feed bin and “died happy of incurable colic.” Colic is a dreadful, painful way for an animal to die. That ox did not "die happy."
Then there’s the fact-checking… or lack thereof. There were statements of fact or incident that were questionable at best; wrong or outdated at worst. She mentions buying hay for her chickens' nests; straw would be much more likely, preferred, and cheaper. Biff the show dog “beg[s] for chocolate”; I thought everyone knew chocolate is not a good treat for dogs, and the brand of dog food Biff shills for is lousy quality, mostly corn junk food. She blithely offers that knee-replacement surgery has boosted the market for riding mules because mules have a smoother gait and thus are easier on the knees; no substantiation is given, and most riders with replaced knees are fine in the saddle – it’s the mounting and dismounting that can be dicey. And perhaps this is old fake news, but she suggests there may be a connection between cellphone towers and disoriented homing pigeons – again, with no factual support, and which has been fairly well debunked buy Audubon Society researchers. And really, Susan, lions don’t sweat.
The best essays are the ones in which Orlean herself features the least. The strange and awful Tiger Lady saga (pre-Tiger King!) is a disturbing portrait of the wild-animal-as-pet trade and obsession. The piece on rabbit-keeping in the U.S. is a clear-eyed look at the ambivalence of rabbit fanciers who can’t decide if their charges are much-loved pets or meat stock. Taxidermists come across as a pleasantly loony, obsessed, creative and artistic bunch – but she completely avoids the figurative (and maybe even literal) elephant in the room about where the “trophies” they create come from, how, and at whose hands. However, the piece on the Lion Guy forcefully depicts the tragic state of lions in the modern world, and the unconscionable horrors of canned safari hunts.
The final section outlines a year or so in the life of Orlean’s hobby farm in the Hudson Valley: dogs, cats, poultry, and even a few cattle occupy her (though the cattle are actually a tax-avoidance project, as is a casual and joking reference to raising puppies for profit). Still, there is a weird lack of emotional connection to these, her very own personal menagerie. They take in a stray cat, and she seems to be mystified by why her resident cat hates the newcomer, whose sex she can’t even identify correctly. I will agree whole-heartedly with her assessment of the evils of ticks, though. I’d also like to know how Helen, the Rhode Island Red hen, is the lowest chicken in the pecking order on one page, becomes the top-ranking alpha hen a few pages later.
And then, the family ups sticks and move to Los Angeles for a job opportunity. The animals have to be handed off, arranged for, and away they go. They spend a few more summers in New York, but it turns out to be too much trouble, so they sell up what we’ve been told is a much-loved, long-dreamed-for place, and that’s that.
Animal lovers, if you are looking for dedication, loyalty, intimacy, and a recognition of animals as, in the inimitable words of Henry Beston, “finished and complete, gifted with extensions of the senses we have lost or never attained, living by voices we shall never hear. They are not brethren, they are not underlings; they are other nations, caught with ourselves in the net of life and time, fellow prisoners of the splendour and travail of the earth,” don’t look here. To be fair, she is never mawkish or sentimental, she does not anthropomorphize, and her approach seems to be one clinging to objectivity (with some factual issues), an eye for detail, and respect for the attitudes the human subjects may have toward their animal charges. But her own humanity has gaps, and she lacks “another and a wiser…concept of animals,” (Beston again) that respects them as they deserve. ( )
  JulieStielstra | Oct 3, 2021 |
I learned a whole lot of fascinating things about many different kinds of animals and their relationships with humans!
Some stuff I sort of knew (like the training of USMC to utilize mules and other pack animals in mountainous terrains like Afghanistan), and pigeons not used in war like they were in The War To End All Wars, but where racing pigeons have sold for over $200,000. Then there's the history of chickens in the suburbs, a woman who had acres of tigers in New Jersey, the world of dog shows and proper breeding (as opposed to *puppy Mills*), regulations and stories regarding animals (even locusts and worms!) while filming movies/TV (organization Animal Humane).
The writing style is easy and characteristic of her New Yorker articles but does, rarely, sanitize a bit.
I requested and received a free review copy from Simon and Schuster Publishers via NetGalley. Thank you!
Now I have to get a copy for Zelda with her farm! ( )
  jetangen4571 | Jul 28, 2021 |
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