Fuzz: When Nature Breaks the Law by Mary Roach

March 29, 2022

Mary Roach explores human-wildlife interaction.

I’m not sure the book strictly followed its title premise the whole way, but it was exactly what I’ve come to expect from any Mary Roach book: entertaining, hilarious, educational, and thought-provoking.

When I first heard about “defensive vomiting,” I figured it was a way to become lighter and better able to take wing and flee. Nope. Nor is it done to repulse the predator. Au contraire, it’s more likely, said gull expert Julie Ellis, “a way to distract a potential predator with some alternative food.” Animals are different from us.

This style may not be for everyone, but it sure feels custom-tailored for me.

Glue traps are illegal in New Zealand and parts of Europe. I emailed the Victor product manager, asking whether the company had plans to stop selling glue traps. You won’t believe this, but she didn’t answer.

I always enjoy the ongoing narrative learning journey that also involves writing and explaining, and get the sense there’s a lot of careful editing and sharpening of words for the reader’s benefit. Also a self-deprecating honesty I appreciate:

Before we get to the should and could of gene drives, a wobbly stab at the how.

And it’s not just weird facts, sarcasm, and writing quips:

People always say, ‘We’ve thought of everything that might be a problem.’ Well, it’s probably one of the things you haven’t thought of that’s going to be a problem.

Always a delight.