Animals Strike Curious Poses

By Elena Passarello,

Book cover of Animals Strike Curious Poses

Book description

Beginning with Yuka, a 39,000 year old mummified woolly mammoth recently found in the Siberian permafrost, each of the 16 essays in Animals Strike Curious Poses investigates a different famous animal named and immortalized by humans. Modeled loosely after a medieval bestiary, these witty, playful, whipsmart essays traverse history, myth,…

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Why read it?

2 authors picked Animals Strike Curious Poses as one of their favorite books. Why do they recommend it?

This book immediately caught my eye with its cheeky Prince quote-as-title, then blew me away with Passarello’s meticulously researched, elegantly crafted essays, each centering around a different animal from world history.

Passarello’s prose is lyrical, whether she’s dramatizing Mozart’s creative correspondence with his pet starling, introducing us to “Mike, the headless chicken,” or whimsically “finishing” Christopher Smart’s famed 18th-century paean to his beloved cat Jeoffry.

Reading this book feels like visiting a combination zoo/museum with my smartest animal-loving friend.

In Animals Strike Curious Poses, Elena Passarello’s brilliant essay collection, we learn the secret histories and trajectories of various “famous” animals and our odd human relationships with them. These essays know weird and delicious things about the recesses of our hearts (the corporeal and metaphorical ones). They know what goes on in the ganglia of the spider’s silk-spigot, and in the shadows cast by the giant carapace. In “Vogel Staar,” one of the most delightful essays collection, we learn of the pet starling that served as Mozart’s musical muse, presumably inspiring the composer’s more daring compositions.  

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