The Everybody Ensemble: Donkeys, Essays, and Other Pandemoniums

Amy Leach. Farrar, Straus and Giroux, $25 (208p) ISBN 978-0-374-10966-0
In this eccentric essay collection, Pushcart Prize–winner Leach (Things That Are) defends the dignity of all organisms, giving voice to animals, plants, and microbes alike. At the work’s heart is her ideology of “everybodyism,” a version of universalism that includes “not just all the human rascals but also all the buffalo rascals and reptile rascals and paddlefish and turkeys and centipedes and wombats and warty pigs.” The essays are short and amusing, with Leach’s lighthearted humor and charming brand of absurdism on full display—in “Non Sequiturs,” she encourages resistance to dogmatism, writing, “Linnets have no tenets; any animal, in response to religious dogma, says, ‘That’s just religion talking.’ Dogness defies dogma.” “Sleepers Awake” celebrates divinity in the wonderful variety of stuff on Earth, while “Haunted by Hedgehogs” considers misinformation-filled medieval bestiaries. The strength of Leach’s prose is in her turns of phrases, which are plentiful and playful (“Gravity can be a good friend, but I have noticed that he plays favorites”). She meanders from one subject to the next, and though this can sometimes betray a lack of focus, her profoundly empathetic perspective keeps things grounded. There’s much to savor in this quirky mix of sharp writing and quick wit. Agent: Jin Auh, the Wylie Agency. (Oct.)
Reviewed on : 07/15/2021
Release date: 10/19/2021
Genre: Nonfiction
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