cover image Ungrateful Mammals

Ungrateful Mammals

Dave Eggers. Abrams, $29.99 (144p) ISBN 978-1-4197-2463-3

Prior to becoming an author and editor, Eggers (The Circle) was trained as a visual artist. Here, he offers a collection of his animal portraits accompanied by dry-witted handwritten captions. Eggers’s drawings, which have the improvisational quality of wildlife sketches, include animals as different as jumping spiders and aardvarks. The written components are a mix of patently absurd pronouncements, metaphysical ponderings, and ominous declarations scrawled out at world’s end. A naked mole rat, for example, is rendered in red pencil and accompanied by the words “He sent me to you because he knew we’d have so much to talk about.” Elsewhere, a silky terrier is perfectly paired with the question “Would not weeping be redundant?” Readers will get a sense that the joke isn’t on the animals but on humans and their endless probing for meaning. At the same time, it’s a loving tribute to the animals that Eggers clearly admires. Illus. (Oct.)