It’s been a few years since I read a Mary Roach book, which seems like a terrible oversight. I generally love Roach’s books, even when the topic isn’t quite my jam (looking at you, Grunt). Its pretty simple to determine why – Mary Roach is hysterically funny. Ever since my first endeavor with her writing when I read Packing for Mars in 2015, I’ve been lowkey in love with her writing style, and am aware that I try to keep my own writing similarly lighthearted when its appropriate. Roach doesn’t keep herself off the page, and it reliably provides the way in for her audience, as she is the commensurate curious outsider in every topic she introduces to her readers. I’m always going to enjoy reading Roach’s books, and her particular brand of letting-the-reader-in-on-the-joke writing about non-fiction.
Fuzz: When Nature Breaks the Law is in some ways a departure from her normal topic – people. Roach has investigated our relationship with sex (Bonk), food (Gulp), death (Stiff and Spook – the last of her solo books I haven’t read), and war (Grunt). The argument can be made that the heart of Fuzz (which – great pun as usual) is about people’s relationship with animals, the book is more about the animals themselves and how humans are trying to wrap our brains around what to do with them as we continue to get in their way.
This is a three star one for me, while Roach uses her trademark focus on the weird eddies of science and discovery to unpack the idea of “problem” animals is really not about the animals, this one felt like it was missing a central thesis. Each idea was linked to the next, but if you look at them from the macro you wouldn’t necessarily be able to predict how, and I’m not sure a couple weeks after finishing what I was supposed to really take away from this book, except the knowledge that I would get on famously with the Bear Bitches.