Jill had been trying to get me to read Gould for over a year. She subscribes to Natural History and so had a fresh dose every month to tackle me with. And I’m not sure of my reluctance. Jill would say that it’s because I’m reluctant to do anything that she wants me to do–I’m not ready to admit that (I certainly hope that that’s not true!). I think it may have been that I didn’t want to add Natural History to my voluminous stack of stuff yet to read– cleverly forgetting, if I had ever truly realized it, that Gould’s column was collected, and continuously being collected, in a series of volumes, of which this one is the first. Maybe I just wanted to start from the beginning.
It’s a good thing that Jill had introduced me to some later Gould, because this, while genuinely entertaining, and definately intellectually stimulating, is a rougher mix. Gould has grown as a writer (and probably as a scientist) since originally starting his column.
This isn’t a book to try to read at one sitting (I think it’s been at my bedside for the last year) because it is thick and meaty. While Gould attempts to write at a level that a layman can understand, he doesn’t simplify things. It’s a tough slog through some of these essays, but always worth the effort. I’ve got the next volume by the bedside now, and I look forward to growing with Gould.
[Finished 7 January 1994]