Book review — ‘I Want To Know What It Is Like To Be A Wild Thing’

The New York Times Book Review

Charles Foster’s ‘Being A Beast’
By Vicki Constantine Croke

NYTimes-Olivier Schrauwen

Olivier Schrauwen

It’s not easy being a theriomorph. The gods of myth never seem to break a sweat when they sprout an elephant head, goat hooves or swan’s wings. But few of us mere mortals can take on an animal’s nature so effortlessly.

My own early experiments in this transformation involved a strange quadrupedal scuttle meant to mimic the stride of my childhood dog, a collie mix named Penny. The gait slowed me down, gave me a head rush and produced grass stains on my culottes that infuriated my mother. Beyond the suburbs, traditional shamanic uses of hallucinogens, such as ayahuasca, are said to facilitate such metamorphoses. But here again, a novice’s pants might require more than spot cleaning, this time from the explosive biological side effects.

The messiness of morphing is a pungent theme of “Being a Beast: Adventures Across the Species Divide,” a meditative romp that leaves you laughing out loud (and occasionally cursing in anger) even as you soak up the spray of science… READ MORE

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