Monday, April 6, 2009

Nonfiction Monday: Gerald Durrell

One of my favorite funny authors is Gerald Durrell. Many people are familiar with his classic, My Family and Other Animals, and its telling of his eccentric family's sojourn on the island of Corfu. But there's a whole series of hilarity to follow, as Durrell grows up and follows his dream of becoming a zookeeper, first as an assistant, then as an animal collector for zoos, and finally in his own zoo.

Durrell's books perfectly capture the insanity of foreign travel, cultural differences, and trying to explain to bewildered government and shipping officials exactly what it is he's doing with all those weird animals....

Through all his adventures, exhausting, stressful, and dangerous, Durrell maintains an exuberant interest and curiosity not only in the personalities and lives of the many animals he encounters, but also in the local people. Hilarious anecdotes of traveling mishaps, miscommunications, local bureacracies, and animal antics are interspersed with a real concern for the welfare not only of animals but also of the coexisting humans.

Verdict: If you like animals, travel stories, and lots of laughs, you'll enjoy Gerald Durrell! A recommended family read-aloud!

Many of Durrell's works have been reprinted and used copies are also easy to find. My large collection was put together through Bookmooch and Half Price Books


Charlotte said...

I love Gerald Durrell tons!

Have you ever read Margo's attempt at a book--Whatever Happened to Margo? It is pretty dire as a stand-alone, but of interest to inveterate Durrell fans.

Viz Durrell being a family read aloud--I think care is required here. The Corfu books are rather racy. I learned quite a few dirty limericks and one very bad French swear at quite a young age from them!

Jennifer said...

Yeah, you have to be a serious Durrell fan to get through Margo's books. Likewise Lawrence Durrell's historical fiction or whatever they're supposed to be. Although he did write some funny short stories - Antrobus Complete - about diplomatic service.

Well, re. family read-aloud - I read this aloud to my siblings when they were pretty young. The nice thing about reading aloud, if you are good at it (-:) is that you can drop out bits as you go, if they're inappropriate for your audience.

Charlotte said...

Those are the only of Larry's I've read, and they are funny! I tried his non-fictionish book about Cyprus (Bitter Lemons) but got nowhere.

My mother read us the first few chapters of My Family and Other Animals, just to get us started, when I was about 10 or so. We enjoyed it lots!

The Book Chook said...

I was skimming Terry's round-up and my eyes snagged on Gerald Durrell! So I came by to say I totally share the love!

Catch Me A Colobus, Rosy is my Relative and Fillets of Plaice are definitely worth a read, too. But My Family and Other Animals is at the top of my list.

(Larry is way too literary for me.)

(Do you know Three Men in a Boat by Jerome K. Jerome? My favourite humour book of all time!)

Jennifer said...

Yeah, I actually got the sequel, Three Men on a Bummel, but haven't gotten around to reading it yet...

The Book Chook said...

Bummel was nowhere near as funny, to me.