Excerpt from Anthill by Edward O. Wilson, plus links to reviews, author biography & more

Summary |  Excerpt |  Reviews |  Beyond the Book |  Readalikes |  Genres & Themes |  Author Bio

Anthill

A Novel

by Edward O. Wilson

Anthill
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

  • First Published:
    Apr 2010, 378 pages
    Paperback:
    Apr 2011, 384 pages

  • Rate this book


Book Reviewed by:
Elizabeth Whitmore Funk

Buy This Book

About this Book

Print Excerpt


He fell silent again, the shotgun held steady, still pointed at the boys.

This too was an obvious dismissal, but Junior tried yet again. “We have to get movin’ along right away, but could we maybe just see Old Ben first? People say he’s the biggest gator in the world, like maybe twelve feet.”

“Fourteen,” Frogman shot back, lowering the shotgun a bit and speaking now in a normal voice.

Junior had broken through. Alligator pride was the key.

“Fourteen feet,” Frogman continued. “They used to be gators bigger’n that around here, but they all got shot out. You ain’t gonna see Old Ben, though. He comes out only at night. And he stays ’round here close to me. I watch over him, feed him catfish and frogs after I take they legs off.”

Frogman, it was widely known, used a headlamp to gig bullfrogs on the river at night, then took the legs the next morning to the nearest gas station and one-stop store at Potomo Landing. He walked overland, never took his boat, made enough off the sales to buy sundries. He rarely spoke, the store owners reported, and he never stayed more than a few minutes. Each time the owners and any customers were happy to see him leave.

Frogman fell silent once again.

Time to go, for sure. But as Junior started to leave, he turned around and pressed his luck again.

“We know we got to leave right away, sir, but could you tell us—have you ever seen the Chicobee Serpent?”

Frogman continued to stare at the boys, but Raff sensed that something had almost imperceptibly changed. Frogman passed his tongue once quickly over his lips as though preparing to speak. He worked his mouth around a little bit, and finally said, “Maybe I have. Maybe I haven’t.”

He paused for a moment more, then unleashed a veritable oration. “I’ve seen somethin’ big out there, always when it’s gittin’ dark, and heard some things too. It ain’t a gator, for sure. It ain’t no sturgeon either, come jumping out of the water big as a man. It might be a big old bull shark, come upriver out of the Gulf somewhere, long as a new-cut log, but I don’t think so. That kinda shark don’t break the surface, they come at you underwater.”

Raff knew, if Junior didn’t, that bull sharks are among the few species in the world that travel up rivers, and are also among the few that sometimes attack humans.

Frogman looked past the boys and seemed to be talking to himself. “But I seen somethin’. I heard somethin’.”

Junior and Raff were riveted. They waited for Frogman to continue, but he was done. His mouth tightened, his eyes squinted, and the ogre of the Chicobee returned.

“Now you get the hell off my land, and if ever I see either one of you little bastards come here again I’ll make you the sorriest you ever been your whole life.”

They walked backward to the landing, kowtowing, heads nodding, murmuring, “Yessir, yessir.” They quickly pushed the boat free, climbed in, and pushed off.

At the Potomo Landing, they worked the boat up onto the mud shore, walked up the grassy bank, and sat down next to

the bridge abutment in the shade of a giant live oak. Raff opened his knapsack and pulled out a lunch his mother had prepared for the two: peanut butter and strawberry jam in white-bread sandwiches, apples, and Hershey’s chocolate bars with almonds.

Raff and Junior then walked past the little convenience store and gas pump on down the one-lane blacktop Potomo Road until, twenty minutes later, they reached the crossing of the old Thomasville Railroad. They proceeded south along the track, sometimes hopping from one wooden tie to the next, sometimes navigating through the dense weeds growing on the embankment. When they came to State 27 they followed it southeast into Clayville. Along the way they agreed to hike the next day to the Johnson Farm to retrieve their bicycles. Then they exchanged solemn oaths never to tell their parents about their adventure, for fear of being grounded.

Reprinted from Anthill: A Novel by E. O. Wilson Copyright © 2010 by Edward O. Wilson. Used with permission of the publisher, W.W. Norton & Company, Inc.

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

Beyond the Book:
  E. O. Wilson, the Scientist

One-Month Free Membership

Join Today!

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket: Here I Am
    Here I Am
    by Jonathan Safran Foer
    With almost all the accoutrements of upper middle-class suburban life, Julia and Jacob Bloch fit the...
  • Book Jacket: Harmony
    Harmony
    by Carolyn Parkhurst
    In previous novels such as The Dogs of Babel and Lost and Found, Carolyn Parkhurst has shown herself...
  • Book Jacket: Commonwealth
    Commonwealth
    by Ann Patchett
    Opening Ann Patchett's novel Commonwealth about two semi-functional mid-late 20th Century ...

First Impressions

  • Book Jacket

    The Tea Planter's Wife
    by Dinah Jefferies

    An utterly engrossing, compulsive page-turner set in 1920s Ceylon.

    Read Member Reviews

  • Book Jacket

    Darling Days
    by iO Tillett Wright

    A devastatingly powerful memoir of one young woman's extraordinary coming of age.

    Read Member Reviews

Book Discussions
Book Jacket
Sweet Caress
by William Boyd

William Boyd's Sweet Caress captures an entire lifetime unforgettably within its pages. It captivates.

About the book
Join the discussion!
Win this book!
Win Blood at the Root

Blood at the Root

"A gripping, timely, and important examination of American racism."
- PW Starred Review

Enter

Word Play

Solve this clue:

D C Y C Before T A H

and be entered to win..

Books that     
entertain,
     engage

 & enlighten

Visitors can view some of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only.

Join Today!

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends books that we believe to be best in class. Books that will whisk you to faraway places and times, that will expand your mind and challenge you -- the kinds of books you just can't wait to tell your friends about.

 
X

Free Weekly Newsletter

Keep up with what's happening in the world of books:
Reviews, previews, interviews and more!



Spam Free: Your email is never shared with anyone; opt out any time.