Monday, March 25, 2013

Big Arboreal Rice Rat

You know I have a book about weeds and a book about seahorses and an "ethnobotanical dictionary" and a waterlogged set of BUTLER'S LIVES OF THE SAINTS and elsewhere on the "internet" I have written about my love of reference books so it is no surprise to you that I picked up MAMMALS OF THE WORLD: A CHECKLIST and ALABAMA WILDLIFE VOLUME TWO: IMPERILED AQUATIC MOLLUSKS AND FISHES at Off Square Books the other day, but my purchase afforded much amusement for those gathered, including Lisa Howorth, who was moved to take a picture of it (above - see also). Only Melissa Ginsburg, who was there, truly "got" why these books are so interesting, although one other person said (unconvincingly), by way of compensatory sympathy, "I do want to know what's going on with that anteater and that skunk," referring to the cover of MAMMALS OF THE WORLD: A CHECKLIST. MAMMALS OF THE WORLD: A CHECKLIST is a checklist of the mammals of the world. That's all it is! Page after page. No illustrations. Font, font, font, closely packed. There are even little boxes next to the names of the mammals so you can check them off right there in the book when you see them! "And it tells you where to go," Melissa observed. Sure enough, I now know that I might have to go to Peru to see a "big arboreal rice rat." As for the book about imperiled mollusks, I am sorry the mollusks are imperiled but they have great names, presented in all caps and illustrated by beautiful color photographs. Just now I opened the book at random and found ORANGEFOOT PIMPLEBACK and DELICATE SPIKE and PINK MUCKET. (See also.) And oh yeah a while back I thought it would be a great idea if I had some unwieldy facsimile editions of HOLINSHED'S CHRONICLES - from which Shakespeare got a bunch of his ideas - but I could only get hold of volume three and volume six. Still, volume three has the reign of Henry VI in it, so recently, when I was reading about Henry VI elsewhere, I thought: "At last! A use for HOLINSHED'S CHRONICLES! I bet there's some hot stuff in there!" There is not. (See also.) But volume six says that Irish people are "religious, franke, amorous, irefull, sufferable of infinit paines, verie glorious, manie sorcerers, excellent horssemen... Their infants, they of meaner sort, are neither swadled nor lapped in linen, but folded vp starke naked in a blanket till they can go... otemeale and butter they cram togither... they let their cowes bloud, which growne to a gellie, they bake and ouerspread with butter, and so eate it in lumps." Whoa I got carried away typing there.