Jason Palmer's Reviews > Woman: An Intimate Geography

Woman by Natalie Angier
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's review
Mar 25, 2012

liked it
Read in March, 2011

The first half of this book is extremely interesting and insightful. The next half is a rant about hormones and evolution that just does not fit at all with the title of the book. The second half should be another book titled: Female Primates and other Creatures such as Prairie Voles: An Uncomfortably Intimate Speculation. I’ve been thinking about probability a lot lately, and the first chapter was thinking right along with me on that front. When I stop and think, it seems that life is so unlikely it is amazing that anybody is ever born. So many things could go wrong. But the natural selection that happens just in the one generation that produces you is actually a huge process of winnowing down to only the fittest potential eggs. The female fetus starts out with 9 million eggs and the weakest of these are killed off until the toddler only has 400,000 left. Of these only 40 or so will actually be available for marriage with the sperm cell that was able to out swim the others. The probability of a healthy person being born is actually very high, because millions of potentially unhealthy people are killed off long before they ever have the chance of being born. It makes me feel special. I also liked the bit in one of the next few chapters that talked about how, if a woman loses one of her fallopian tubes for some weird reason, the other tube can actually reach across and grab the eggs from the opposite ovary. Alas, this is not a book for men who want to find out the Cosmopolitan magazine type secrets about women. In fact, I think this book is purposely man-proof, which is why I found most of it quite unpalatable. Even the grittiest scientific bits are written in such flowery, poetic, Ann of Green Gables, erudite slush that any real Nascar baseball cap wearing man would vomit after the first sentence he understood, if he were able to understand any (which is unlikely).

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