Magazine article Geographical

CRITICAL CRITTERS: With Beastly Sneers and Callous Observations

Magazine article Geographical

CRITICAL CRITTERS: With Beastly Sneers and Callous Observations

Article excerpt

CRITICAL CRITTERS: With Beastly Sneers and Callous Observations by Ralph Steadman & Ceri Levy Bloomsbury [pounds sterling]35 (hardback)

'Laughter has to be the key'--that's not a message often found on the first page of a book about extinct and critically endangered species, but this is no ordinary book. Creative mayhem is the undercurrent, as Ceri Levy produces a text describing the animals we're killing; Steadman illustrates them in his inimitable Rorschach-test fashion; and the pair interact in the margins, with transcripts of phone calls, email exchanges, diary entries and random insults and jokes ('Have you seen the Crockery Dile? It's a teapot with teeth').

There are detailed accounts of the habits and habitats of creatures that may or may not exist ('Looking like the love child of a giraffe and a Brachiosaurus, the Red Wowlet roams the landscape in a continual state of amazement'), pen-portraits of the occasional human who almost certainly doesn't ('Dylis once threatened a whole herd of elephants with extinction if they didn't "settle down and stop causing such a rumpus'"), and, littered throughout, fascinating glimpses of how the world looks through the eyes of genius. …

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