Friday, April 18, 2014

Review: Encounters with Animals by Gerald Durrell

I first stumbled across Gerald Durrell's My Family and Other Animals several years ago and loved it. And while I didn't track down the Masterpiece Theater piece of that book as threatened, I did track down another of his books, serendipitously found in the "free" box at a used bookstore. Encounters with Animals is a collection of essays culled from Durrell's BBC broadcasts about animals and animal behaviour over the years.

Each of the essays is fairly short and describes Durrell's collecting of animals for zoos, how certain exotic animals behave in wild, and the always entertaining bits about the animals the Durrell family has lived with in their home. Because these essays are pulled from radio broadcasts, they are very descriptive in drawing the animal in question in the reader's (and originally, the listener's) mind's eye. Durrell is an entertaining writer, personifying the animals about whom he writes but also being mindful of their natural lives. The essays are homely and sweetly humorous and provide a gentle introduction to exotic animals, their habits, and their habitats. Durrell is, as always, an accessible, lovely writer but this collection seems as if it would be more satisfying if it was listened to, as originally conceived, rather than read. Still a nice collection for naturalists to dip into, it just doesn't quite shine the way that My family and Other Animals does.

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