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|Publisher:||McClelland & Stewart|
|Product dimensions:||5.60(w) x 8.30(h) x 0.60(d)|
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Bringing Back The Dodo
By Wayne Grady
Random HouseWayne Grady
All right reserved.
Five years ago, James Little, explore magazine's intrepid editor, called and asked me to write a regular column for his publication. What he had in mind, he said, was for me to be "the Canadian David Quammen," the American naturalist who for many years wrote a natural-history column for Outside magazine. I was a bit taken aback by this, as I'd always thought of myself as the Canadian John McPhee, but adaptability is life, and so I took it on. I'm very glad I did, for writing the column got me thinking about human beings as a species in ways I hadn't thought of before. The idea was to provide a natural history slant on contemporary life; every two months, I was to look at what was happening in the world around us from the point of view of an amateur naturalist. The column was called "Biologic," and I eventually wrote fifteen of them, each about twenty-five hundred words in length. Long for a column, but it was good to have enough room to follow various unravelled threads and to end up, one hoped, with a tidy skein of thought. James gave me free range to explore as wide a swath of scientific, natural, and human foibles as I chose. He suggested general ideas for some of the columns, and readers wrote or e-mailed in with anecdotes that sparked others, and over the two and a half years of Biologic's lifethe columns evolved into a unified, though eclectic, collection of essays.
Well, nascent essays. Although there is a school of thought that maintains the publication of a collection of columns ought to be simple reprintings of the original columns, presenting them exactly as they were published, warts, dated references, factual errors and all, I do not attend that school. Columns are not essays. They are subject to specific, often passing, fancies; they are written to firm, often pressing, deadlines; and they are squeezed into iron-clad, often restrictive, lengths. Essays require a somewhat more relaxed environment in which to thrive. In this book, like a conscientious gardener, I have dug the columns from their temporary seed beds -- the pages of explore -- and transplanted them into more permanent perennial beds. In many cases I have added information, updated time-sensitive references, written new paragraphs, and, in two cases, entire essays ("Atwood and McKibben" is an expansion of a review I wrote for the Ottawa Citizen of Margaret Atwood's novel Oryx and Crake, and "Send in the Clones" dovetails some of the ideas expressed in the previous essays). I have corrected factual errors wherever I (or others) have found them, expanded several of the essays beyond their original scope, deepened them, and generally tried to make them reflect the maturer thoughts of a writer who has had the time and tranquility to mull over the ideas worried at in the columns. The result, I hope, is a book of connected essays with a unified theme and a single, sustained voice.
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