World of Wonders: In Praise of Fireflies, Whale Sharks, and Other Astonishments

Aimee Nezhukumatathil. Milkweed, $24 (184p) ISBN 978-1-57131-365-2
Nezhukumatathil (Oceanic) applies her skill as a poet to a scintillating series of short essays on nature. She takes up topics that fascinate her—the bizarre-looking potoo birds of Central and South America; corpse flowers, with their rich colors and acrid odor—and connects them to her own experience of the world. She’ll begin with a study of dancing flamingos, only to pivot to memories of going to dance clubs as a young woman, and end with an exhortation for everyone to “keep in step with our small dances on this earth.” Elsewhere, she considers the vampire squid and its prodigious aptitude for concealment, then intently examines her own so-called lonely “cephalopod” year at a new high school. A memory of being laughed at by bonnet macaque monkeys serves as a reminder to laugh at herself. Throughout, she vividly describes sounds, smells, and color—the myriad hues of a “sea of saris” from India—and folds in touches of poetry. Fumi Nakamura’s lush illustrations add to the book’s appeal. Readers of Terry Tempest Williams and Annie Dillard will appreciate Nezhukumatathil’s lyrical look at nature. Christopher Rhodes, Stuart Agency. (Aug.)
Reviewed on : 03/20/2020
Release date: 08/01/2020
Genre: Nonfiction
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