The Red Hourglass: Lives of the Predators (Allen Lane Science)

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9780140275810: The Red Hourglass: Lives of the Predators (Allen Lane Science)

Nature's most fearsome predators are truly nightmarish creatures. Gordon Grice shows that the reality of these predators' behaviour is in fact far worse than anything we might imagine. With an unnerving sense of delight, Grice explores the inner lives of nature's least loved.

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The Red Hourglass creeps and crawls with seven essays that follow the author's fascination with spiders, insects, snakes--even wild pigs. Its title, suggesting the irony of lethal beauty, provides a hint of the miraculous nature writing contained within; Grice transforms even the most horrific events of the natural world into poetry. Here's a pet praying mantis during feeding time: "The moth flapped its wings into a buzzing blur every few seconds while the mantid unhurriedly ate it, starting from the head. The pruning-shear mouth parts worked away, biting out chunks of moth and lapping the juices. The moth's scales, which had broken into particles of dust when they smeared my hand, looked like little brown feathers when they were whole, and they drifted down in a steady snow." The writing is quirky, lyrical, and intensely personal. Grice is not just an observer of nature; he gleefully participates in the strange and wonderful lives of mostly small, predatory animals, and most readers will simultaneously squirm and delight in his unusual, ground-level perspective. Then again, some readers may be reduced to quivering terror. If you suffer from a fear of the little beasts roaming the earth, perhaps Grice's exploration of the predator-prey relationship might prove too frightening and abhorrent. -- Amazon.com

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