Fuzz: When Nature Breaks the Law by author Mary Roach
What happens when animals break man’s law? Say an elephant commits murder or a squirrel commits theft. Are they held responsible? Who is the judge? Can we judge animals by our sets of morals to begin with?
Mary Roach sets out to answer these questions in the first of her books that I’ve given fewer than 5/5 stars. It’s still a well written piece of literary journalism, it just turns out that this concept doesn’t quite fill a full book. Sorry, Mary, I’ve just gotten used to holding you to a much higher standard. Particularly after Grunt, I sure learned a lot from that book about military science.
This idea of animals breaking the law is treated very loosely throughout Fuzz. We learn about a couple of historical cases and a handful of anectodotal stories but most of the book is just barely tangible to the concept. The bulk of the book has more to do with animal control across various nations and climates than anything to do with “breaking the law.”
Roach visits wildlife experts in various fields and talks a lot about how to prevent bears from getting into trashcans. Most of us, who live in urban areas don’t really have to deal with a lot of wildlife and will find these tidbits of information slightly amusing but otherwise kind of pointless. I have lived in an area that required bear proofing as well, and in that case a lot of the information was actually already known.
The best part of Fuzz is all of the stories that demonstrate how smart animals can be. Animals of all kinds are incredibly adaptable and it’s impressive to see how capable they are at overcoming traps and locks. It’s also always fun when diabolical humans are foiled by a crafty monkey or bird.
Any Mary Roach book is going to teach you a lot about a subject that you might be completely unfamiliar with. I just think Fuzz would have worked better as a few essays instead of a whole book. There just isn’t enough material to keep it engaging for 300 pages.
If you have read her other books before go ahead and pick this one up too. However, if you are new to her brand of nonfiction entertainment I would recommend pretty much any other one to start with. My personal favorites were Bonk, Spook, and Grunt.
4/5 animals 🦍🐅🐖🐿
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