cover image Intimate Nature: The Bond Between Women and Animals

Intimate Nature: The Bond Between Women and Animals

Deena Matzger. Fawcett Books, $27 (455pp) ISBN 978-0-449-91122-8

Ranging from Native American folktales to scientific field observations, this book's stories, essays and poems (about 60% of which are original) by women about animals encompass everything from accounts of standoffs with wild bears to memoirs of personal relationships with pets. The editors note that, today, female researchers of animals abound (about 50% of primatologists are women, for example) and contend that these women's observations reveal a ""new understanding,"" an approach and viewpoint toward animals that is different from those of their male counterparts. Seemingly less hindered by an assumption of the naturalness of male dominance and aggression, the women represented here often observe nuances in animal relationships that indicate cooperation, communication, nonprocreative sexuality and ""co-dominance"" or ""mild and unobnoxious"" female dominance. Generally, these writers (including Jane Goodall, Ursula K. Le Guin, Barbara Kingsolver, Alice Walker and the late Dian Fossey, among many others) seem more interested in nurturing, leaving alone, understanding, learning from and being healed by animals. Reading their fascinating accounts of close encounters with whales, dolphins, orangutans, bears, wolves, elephants, chimpanzees, birds and horses can, in the editors' words, help begin to ""return us to a sacred relationship with the natural world."" Author tour. (Jan.)