Tuesday Articles: Viva nonfiction!
Geneen Roth, you're beginning to annoy me.

Not quite what I wanted in a science read.

I'm not much a science reader, but when I find a science book or author I enjoy, I really enjoy them. (And their books tend to stay with me.) Ever since I read Carl Zimmer's fantastic Parasite Rex: Inside the Bizarre World of Nature's Most Dangerous Creatures, for instance, I've read everything I can by Zimmer and keep an eye out for books about parasites. (As well as, well, keeping an eye out for parasites. Bed bugs--yuck!)

Dunn One such recent book is Rob Dunn's The Wild Life of Our Bodies: Predators, Parasites, and Partners That Shape Who We Are Today. Dunn's premise is interesting--a take on disease and human health that considers not what goes into our bodies, but what has been taken out of them as we wage war on all sorts of little beasties by living inside, interacting less with nature, disinfecting everything we can get our hands on, and generally trying to make our environments germ- (and worm-) free. In his early chapters, for instance, he discusses Crohn's disease, a painful and largely misunderstood and often untreatable, and increasingly common, bowel disease, and how it might actually be occurring more often because, at least in first world countries, we very rarely suffer from any kind of intestinal worm infestations.* He actually describes treatments wherein Crohn's sufferers volunteer (by many means) to get worms--and in some cases it actually does seem to work.

I wish I could tell you more, but I stopped reading this one at about p. 56. It was interesting, but I felt like the prose was kind of stilted, and the author was taking way too long to tell me his stories. Here's an example, from early in the book, when he's talking about an animal called the pronghorn, and what its strange evolution tells us about evolution and our environmental interconnectedness in general:

"Counting pronghorn is difficult, like counting crows or clouds. They are suddently everywhere and then, just as suddenly, nowhere. In most of the places they live, they remain unstudied, nameless, and totally wild. But there exists a grassland in the National Bison Range of Montana where the pronghorn are well-known. There the grass grows until it is about halfway up their backs and then stops...The National Bison Range is still wild enough that things can live, mate, and die without ever being noticed, but it is defined enough, a world unto itself, that a man and a woman might hope to watch a few animals live out their lives and in doing so learn broader truths. So it was that in 1981, the zoologist John Byers took it upon himself to be such a man, and his wife, Karen, would be such a woman." (p. 24.)

I think he's trying to be dramatic, but to me it just comes off as stilted. Still and all though, an interesting premise, just not my kind of prose.

*I know, ick. Still kind of interesting.