Pandora's Garden by Clinton Crockett Peters

Pandora's Garden (Crux: The Georgia Series in Literary Nonfiction Series) - Clinton Crockett Peters (author) & John Griswold (Series edited by)

TITLE:  Pandora's Garden:  Kudzu, Cockroaches, and Other Misfits of Ecology


AUTHOR:  Clinton Crockett Peters






ISBN-13:  9780820353203



NOTE: I received a copy of this book from NetGalley. This review is my honest opinion of the book.




"Pandora's Garden profiles invasive or unwanted species in the natural world and examines how our treatment of these creatures sometimes parallels in surprising ways how we treat each other. Part essay, part nature writing, part narrative nonfiction, the chapters in Pandora's Garden are like the biospheres of the globe; as the successive chapters unfold, they blend together like ecotones, creating a microcosm of the world in which we sustain nonhuman lives but also contain them.

There are many reasons particular flora and fauna may be unwanted, from the physical to the psychological. Sometimes they may possess inherent qualities that when revealed help us to interrogate human perception and our relationship to an unwanted other. Pandora's Garden is primarily about creatures that humans don't get along with, such as rattlesnakes and sharks, but the chapters also take on a range of other subjects, including stolen children in Australia, the treatment of illegal immigrants in Texas, and the disgust function of the human limbic system. Peters interweaves these diverse subjects into a whole that mirrors the evolving and interrelated world whose surprises and oddities he delights in revealing.



I have mixed feelings about this book.  The writing is beautiful.  The author definately knows how to write.  However, the combination of essay/ nature writing (minimal science involved)/ anecdotes/ personal stories doesn't really work for me.  The parts that included nature were simply too superficial and the rest was too autobiographical.  The author seemed to focus on stories highlighting how horrible, ignorant and misguided people are.  Whole chapters were dedicated to the author's reminiscences, everything from Godzilla to baseball.  Each chapter covers a separate topic that is vaguely tied together under ecological misfits.  Each chapter reads like a magazine article or essay (which some of them appear to have started out as).  Very little of the ecological information was new to me, so I got a bit bored reading superficial personal stories.  If you like depressing memoirs with a touch of haphazard nature, you might like this book.  If you were expecting something of substance in terms of ecology or animal life, you won't find it in this book.


WARNING:  Book contains descriptions of animal cruelty.