Talk at Cornell

I’m off to Cornell on Tuesday.  It’s been twenty years since I made those long, beautiful drives up to Ithaca.  Cornell is home to Professor Harry W. Greene.  I didn’t know of him 20 years ago.  I was studying Japanese.  I know who he is now.  His book Snakes:  The Evolution of Mystery in Nature is a treasure.  My copy has no cover on it.  But not for the reason you might expect.  I was reading it on vacation with my box turtle, Bookbinder (don’t buy box turtles, mine was a rescue) when I noticed Bookie had sped off somewhere. 

By the time I found him a storm had come in.   I dried Professor Greene’s book out but the cover didn’t make it.  It would have fallen off anyway.  When I was writing The Lizard King I tried hard to think of how to explain to strangers what it was I felt about reptiles.  I searched every nerve ending and finally recalled the last line in Norman MacLean’s story, A River Runs Through It:  “I am haunted by waters.”  Yes, I thought, I am haunted by reptiles.  To my amazement, Professor Greene not only knew Mr. Maclean, he referenced the same line to explain his feelings for reptiles in Snakes.  Mine is well-marked.  Read David Quammen’s review of Snakes in the New York Times

I’ll be talking about wildlife trafficking.  If you’re in the area please come.  Here are more details.

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