Preeti's Reviews > The Animal Dialogues: Uncommon Encounters in the Wild

The Animal Dialogues by Craig Childs
Rate this book
Clear rating

by
2110092
's review
Jan 05, 12

bookshelves: animals, nature-environmental, favorites
Recommended for: nature and animal lovers
Read from December 19, 2011 to January 02, 2012

I just loved this book - the writing was fantastic; it was absolutely lyrical.
This far north the sun was still up, although very low, riding through the mountains as if looking for something it lost on the ground. (p24)
The author shares his experiences with various animals in the wilderness (or even in his backyard). The book is divided into chapters based on each different animal, including everything from a mountain lion, to a raven, down to a praying mantis. I could imagine the scenes as I read, picture them happening in front of my eyes. During the mountain lion chapter, I felt like I was there, waiting to see if the cat would come out and attack me.

The writing was just very poignant and if you are a nature or animal lover, I think you would really appreciate it. For example, the dog chapter, though short, was perfect, just the right blend of poignant and practical, and I love how he connected it with the nature of humans at the end.
I imagined this was not an easy life for a dog in such isolated country, working alongside a grouchy caballero, ever aware of the presence of large wild animals lurking in the woods beyond. I tried to look away and hear what the caballero had to tell us, but the mutt was staring right at me, insisting I address her, damn near scratching a secret SOS into the dirt with her paw. We were a ray of hope for her, strangers with welcoming smiles, but there was nothing I could do for her. I looked away. (p70)
Overall, I just love the respect and appreciation that he gives to animals and to nature.
The elk that you glimpse in the summer, those at the forest edge, are survivors of winter, only the strongest. You see one just before dusk that summer, standing at the perimeter of the meadow so it can step back to the forest and vanish. You can't help imagining the still, frozen nights behind it, so cold that the slightest motion is monumental. I have found their bodies, half drifted over in snow, no sign of animal attack or injury. Just toppled over one night with ice working into their lungs. You wouldn't want to stand outside for more than a few minutes in that kind of weather. If you lived through only one of those winters the way this elk has, you would write books about it. You would become a shaman. You would be forever changed. That elk from the winter stands there on the summer evening, watching from beside the forest. It keeps its story to itself. (p183)
I loved this one description he gave:
This is not wilderness for designation or for a park. Not a scenic wilderness and not one good for fishing or the viewing of wildlife. It is wilderness that gets into your nostrils, that runs with your sweat. It is the core of everything living, wilderness like molten iron. (p156)
Even though this is a place I would never go to, that I could not survive in, I just loved reading about it. It reminds me that nature was not made for us. It exists, indifferent to us and our needs. It's good to be reminded.

He talks about having his camera with him on some of his adventures so I wish there were pictures. But that's just a small want on my part.

The one thing that got to me, that made stop reading and almost discount everything I'd read up to then (which was pretty much the whole book since I was near the end), was when he talks about squids. He says, "The largest animal on the planet is a squid, a rubbery predator that lurks in deep sea trenches." (p296) He even goes on to mention that some "reach lengths of sixty feet" - but that's still not as large as a blue whale, which can be 100 feet. So what the hell? Is there some nuance of writing I missed there? I tried to google the error but didn't come up with anything.

Okay, but other than that (glaring!) error, I did love this book!

Some of my other favorite quotes:
Most animals show themselves sparingly. The grizzly bear is six to eight hundred pounds of smugness. It has no need to hide. If it were a person, it would laugh loudly in quiet restaurants, boastfully wear the wrong clothes for special occasions, and probably play hockey. (p24)

Hilarious, on coyotes migrating East:
Some suggest that they hitched on ice floes of the Northeast coast, and I imagine all the ice floes that missed land, coyotes going out to sea, never heard from again. (p39)

Coyotes move within a landscape of attentiveness. I have seen their eyes in the creosote bushes and among mesquite trees. They have watched me. And all the times that I saw no eyes, that I kept walking and never knew, there were still coyotes. When I have seen them trot away, when I have stepped from the floorboard of my truck, leaned on the door, and watched them as they watched me over their shoulders, I have been aware for that moment of how much more there is. Of how I have only seen only an instant of a broad and rich life. (p39)
2 likes · likeflag

Sign into Goodreads to see if any of your friends have read The Animal Dialogues.
sign in »

Quotes Preeti Liked

“Coyotes move within a landscape of attentiveness. I have seen their eyes in the creosote bushes and among mesquite trees. They have watched me. And all the times that I saw no eyes, that I kept walking and never knew, there were still coyotes. When I have seen them trot away, when I have stepped from the floorboard of my truck, leaned on the door, and watched them as they watched me over their shoulders, I have been aware for that moment of how much more there is. Of how I have only seen only an instant of a broad and rich life.”
Craig Childs, The Animal Dialogues: Uncommon Encounters in the Wild

“Most animals show themselves sparingly. The grizzly bear is six to eight hundred pounds of smugness. It has no need to hide. If it were a person, it would laugh loudly in quiet restaurants, boastfully wear the wrong clothes for special occasions, and probably play hockey.”
Craig Childs, The Animal Dialogues: Uncommon Encounters in the Wild

“This far north the sun was still up, although very low, riding through the mountains as if looking for something it lost on the ground.”
Craig Childs, The Animal Dialogues: Uncommon Encounters in the Wild
tags: nature, sun

“This is not wilderness for designation or for a park. Not a scenic wilderness and not one good for fishing or the viewing of wildlife. It is wilderness that gets into your nostrils, that runs with your sweat. It is the core of everything living, wilderness like molten iron.”
Craig Childs, The Animal Dialogues: Uncommon Encounters in the Wild

“The elk that you glimpse in the summer, those at the forest edge, are survivors of winter, only the strongest. You see one just before dusk that summer, standing at the perimeter of the meadow so it can step back to the forest and vanish. You can't help imagining the still, frozen nights behind it, so cold that the slightest motion is monumental. I have found their bodies, half drifted over in snow, no sign of animal attack or injury. Just toppled over one night with ice working into their lungs. You wouldn't want to stand outside for more than a few minutes in that kind of weather. If you lived through only one of those winters the way this elk has, you would write books about it. You would become a shaman. You would be forever changed. That elk from the winter stands there on the summer evening, watching from beside the forest. It keeps its story to itself.”
Craig Childs, The Animal Dialogues: Uncommon Encounters in the Wild


Reading Progress

12/24/2011 page 56
16.0% "I really love his writing."
12/28/2011 page 70
20.0% "Crap, this is due today! I haven't had time to read for days. *big fat sad face*"
12/29/2011 page 106
30.0% "Not returning this book yet is worth it. I love it so far!"

No comments have been added yet.