WAITING FOR APHRODITE by Sue Hubbell

WAITING FOR APHRODITE

Journeys into the Time Before Bones
Email this review

KIRKUS REVIEW

Hubbell (Far Flung Hubbell: Essays from the American Road, 1995, etc.), fresh to her Maine coast home after 25 years in the Ozarks, goes exploring among the spineless and the no-necks. “My own interests run to small animals that creep and jump and slither and flutter, the invertebrates,” Hubbell warns readers from the start. “We humans are a minority of giants stumbling around in a world of little things.” And the Maine coast, with its vast sea gardens, provides her with plenty of opportunity. Here, mixed with snippets of geological and personal history to give her investigations appealing context, she gives what little lowdown is known about the creatures she fancies, and what she herself has discovered of those creatures that are not at all like us: cut them and they do not bleed, rather they ooze a pale ichor. She pokes about pools that comprise entire intertidal villages; barnacles and periwinkles slam their doors as they catch her eye; mobs of mussels flip and strand a whelk whose intentions—dinner—are not in the mussels’ interests. She considers the sea cucumber, all splotch and funk, which ignites her protective instincts; the sea mouse (a.k.a. Aphrodite), that furtive, iridescent, carnivorous worm that sends out its gut for dinner; and the horseshoe crab, ancient exemplar of punctuated equilibrium. Hubbell mucks about on land as well, where earthworms—of whom Darwin wrote an entire book—are busy eating dirt, camel crickets make a fashion statement with their mysterious bright orange hump, and spiders provoke a quest into the subjectivities of Linnean, Fabrician, Adansonian, Quinarian, and Cladistic classifications. There being millions upon millions of invertebrates, much awaits Hubbell’s broad curiosity and keen-witted explication——I have never seen D. frondosus. I have never seen any nudibranch that I am aware of.” Pray, let them be fuel for another such set of essays. Just as Hubbell intended, readers leave these essays with nothing short of charity and friendship toward these little beasts, and a profound appreciation for Hubbell’s artful introductions. (Author tour)

Pub Date: April 26th, 1999
ISBN: 0-395-83703-0
Page count: 256pp
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1st, 1999




MORE BY SUE HUBBELL

NonfictionSHRINKING THE CAT by Sue Hubbell
by Sue Hubbell
NonfictionFAR FLUNG HUBBELL by Sue Hubbell
by Sue Hubbell
NonfictionBROADSIDES FROM THE OTHER ORDERS by Sue Hubbell
by Sue Hubbell