The Red Hourglass: Lives of the Predators

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9780385318877: The Red Hourglass: Lives of the Predators

Snake venom that digests human flesh. A building cleared of every living thing by a band of tiny spiders. An infant insect eating its living prey from within, saving the vital organs for last. These are among the deadly feats of natural engineering you'll witness in The Red Hourglass, prize-winning author Gordon Grice's masterful, poetic, often dryly funny exploration of predators he has encountered around his rural Oklahoma home.

Grice is a witty and intrepid guide through a world where mating ends in cannibalism, where killers possess toxins so lethal as to defy our ideas of a benevolent God, where spider remains, scattered like "the cast-off coats of untidy children," tell a quiet story of violent self-extermination. It's a world you'll recognize despite its exotic strangeness--the world in which we live. Unabashedly stepping into the mix, Grice abandons his role as objective observer with beguiling dark humor--collecting spiders and other vermin, decorating a tarantula's terrarium with dollhouse furniture, or forcing a battle between captive insects because he deems one "too stupid to live."

Kill. Eat. Mate. Die. Charting the simple brutality of the lives of these predators, Grice's starkly graceful essays guide us toward startling truths about our own predatory nature. The Red Hourglass brings us face to fanged face with the inadequacy of our distinctions between normal and abnormal, dead and alive, innocent and evil.

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Review:

Gordon Grice, a young essayist from rural western Oklahoma, writes winningly of insects in all their glory, basing his narrative on lifelong observations of creatures such as the black widow, praying mantis, brown recluse--and the occasional human being. For the black widow spider he professes an affectionate fascination, dangerous though the spider may be; for the brown recluse, a more dangerous creature still, he exhibits a healthy respect; for all the creatures who fall under his survey, he has many sympathies. Grice writes with good humor, even when he's writing of matters that are not for the squeamish, as when he describes the rather gruesome ways in which female mantises dispose of inconvenient mates or humans dispose of each other.

From the Publisher:

"Gordon Grice is one hell of a writer. I was originally disturbed by some of the killing he depicts, but his descriptions are so compelling that I had to read on. I'm glad I did."
--Jeffrey Masson, author of When Elephants Weep and Dogs Never Lie About Love

"The Red Hourglass marks the debut of a fresh, strange, and wonderful new voice in American nature writing."
--Michael Pollan, author of A Place of My Own and Second Nature

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