View Post

Book Review: How Animals Grieve by Barbara J. King

In Animal Behavior, Birds, Book Reviews, Nonfiction by John Yunker

Let me begin by saying I recommend this book to anyone who doubts that animals grieve. The evidence presented is overwhelming. Dolphins who try to keep their dead calves afloat. Elephants who seek out the remains of their dead years after their passing. A cat who wails inconsolably after losing a sibling. A turtle who comes ashore and stares for hours at the photo of its dead loved one. Or the story of two ducks, Kohl and Harper, who had been rescued from horrible lives in a foie gras factory. Author Barbara King writes: That Kohl and Harper lived for …

View Post

Book Review: Lapham’s Quarterly: Animals

In Animal Rights, Book Reviews, Fiction, Journals and Magazines, Nonfiction by John Yunker

The Lapham’s Quarterly has devoted its Spring 2013 issue to Animals. It’s a marvelous collection of historical essays and stories. Many of the stories included are in the public domain, such as this excerpt from Moby-Dick. What jumped out at me was this excerpt from the essay The Silent Majority by John Berger. The cultural marginalization of animals is, of course, a more complex process than their physical marginalization. The animals of the mind cannot be so easily dispersed. Sayings, dreams, games, stories, superstitions, the language itself recall them. The animals of the mind, instead of being dispersed, have been co-opted into …

View Post

Book Review: The Jungle

In Animal Rights, Book Reviews, Fiction by Midge Raymond

The Jungle by Upton Sinclair I recently revisited Upton Sinclair’s The Jungle—the original edition published by a socialist newspaper in 1905, not the shorter version published by Doubleday, Page (after Macmillan ultimately rejected it) in 1906. It wasn’t surprising to see what had been left out of the original book (though the censored version was horrific enough) and I’m glad I had the chance to read the book in its entirety, as it was meant to be read. Most interesting to me, reading it for the first time as a vegan, is how much of an animal-rights book it is. …

Book Review: The Revenge of GAIA

In Book Reviews, Climate Change, Nonfiction, Oceans, Pollution by Midge Raymond

The Revenge of Gaia: Earth’s Climate Crisis & The Fate of Humanity by James Lovelock I began reading about Gaia after editing the second book in Blair Richmond’s Lithia Trilogy, The Ghost Runner, in which an environmental studies professor brings up the Gaia hypothesis in class. I was intrigued by the idea that the earth is a living, breathing entity that might defend itself against threats. Of course, this glimpse of Gaia was in a fictional context, and I wanted to learn more about the origins of Gaia. So I began reading the work of James Lovelock, the independent scientist …

View Post

Book Review: Mark Twain’s Book of Animals

In Animal Rights, Book Reviews, Fiction, Nonfiction by John Yunker

I recently discovered (and ordered) a book that focuses on Mark Twain and his writings and views about animals. Edited by Mark Twain scholar Shelley Fisher Fishkin, Mark Twain’s Book of Animals, focuses on the many ways Twain not only wrote about animals but advocated on their behalf. Here’s an article that summarizes the book. And an excerpt: Fishkin was inspired to undertake the project after realizing how central animals were to Twain’s works and that his views on animals revealed a great deal about how he viewed people. Fishkin was surprised by what she found during the course of …

View Post

Book Review: Elizabeth Costello by J.M. Coetzee

In Animal Rights, Book Reviews, Fiction, Veganism by John Yunker

 An inside look at the life of an outsider Elizabeth Costello is a challenging novel, just like the namesake character. This is a book that alternates between brief scenes between mother and son, mother and ex-lover, mother in purgatory — and extended lectures on many topics. Including animal rights. In one lecture which began as an essay — The Lives of Animals — Costello lectures on the cruelty of killing animals. It is a lecture not exactly met with enthusiasm and it’s an experience that many vegans and vegetarians have probably shared at one point or another. The experience of …