Saturday, March 28, 2009

Book Review: "Curious Men"

One of the newest offerings in McSweeney's Collins Library Series is Curious Men, a selection of eighteen essays from the voluminous writings of Frank Buckland, a Victorian-era surgeon-zoologist and chronicler of all things odd.

Collins brings us Buckland's tales of giants, mummies, faux-mermaids, petrified hats, trained fleas, and people who walked upside down, in a short and accessible volume that can be read quite comfortably in a single short sitting (in fact, my only quibble with the book is that a few more essays might have been welcome).

Buckland's prose is quite pithy. Here, for example, is a short riff on mermaid attractiveness, which he found rather wanting in one particular specimen he examined: "If I were a merman I should decidedly not fall in love with any mermaid who was not a great deal more particular in matters of hairdressing than our friend under the glass case" (p. 69).

The perfect diversion for a weekend afternoon.

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