Behold the rat, dirty and disgusting! Robert Sullivan turns the lowly rat into the star of the most perversely intriguing, remarkable, and unexpectedly elegant book of the season.
Thoreau went to Walden Pond to live simply in the wild and contemplate his own place in the world by observing nature. Robert Sullivan went to a disused, garbage-filled little alley in lower Manhattan to contemplate the city and its lesser-known inhabitantsby observing the rat.
Rats live in the world precisely where humans do; they survive on the effluvia of human society; they eat our garbage. While dispensing gruesomely fascinating rat facts and strangely entertaining rat-storieseveryone has one, it turns outSullivan gets to know not just the beast but its friends and foes: the exterminators, the sanitation workers, the agitators and activists who have played their part in the centuries-old war between human city dweller and wild city rat. With a notebook and night-vision gear, he sits nightly in the streamlike flow of garbage and searches for fabled rat-kings, sets out to trap a rat, and eventually travels to the Midwest to learn about rats in Chicago, Milwaukee, and other cities of America. With tales of rat fights in the Gangs of New York era and stories of Harlem rent strike leaders who used rats to win tenants basic rights, Sullivan looks deeper and deeper into the largely unrecorded history of the city and its massesits herd-of-rats-like mob. Funny, wise, sometimes disgusting but always compulsively readable, Rats earns its unlikely place alongside the great classics of nature writing.
Did you know?
WHEN I WROTE the following account of my experiences with rats, I lived in an apartment building on a block filled with other apartment buildings, amidst the approximately eight million people in New York City, and I paid rent to a landlord that I never actually met-though I did meet the superintendent, who was a very nice guy. At this moment, I am living out of the city, away from the masses, in a bucolic little village with about the same number of inhabitants as my former city block. I wouldn't normally delve into my own personal matters, except that when I mention my rat experiences to people, they sometimes think I took extraordinary measures to investigate them, and I didn't. All I did was stand in an alley--a filth-slicked little alley that is about as old as the city and secret the way alleys are secret and yet just a block or two from Wall Street, from Broadway, and from what used to be the World Trade Center. All I did was take a spot next to the trash and wait...
I could fill pages with anecdotes from this book but instead I encourage you to go and read the very extensive excerpt at BookBrowse for yourself. The excerpt is unique to BookBrowse and I guarantee you'll come away with lots of wonderful facts to send shivers down your friends' spines for years to come!
(Reviewed by BookBrowse Review Team).
Full Review (337 words).
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