Wednesday, May 05, 2010


Well this novel has to go onto my Library hold list.
I really enjoyed this interview (Part 2 here)with E. O. Wilson, though it struck me in a way that Anna Maria in her CBC manner dodged some of the controversy in his career. It's great, though, to hear this Southerner sound like a Southerner, and display such a great sense of humor combined with such good sense and seriousness. I love his utterly accurate characterization of the American spirit. And his interest in ants is marvelous; my favorite exchange:
Anna Maria: What do you admire about the way those societies operate?
Wilson: Almost nothing. There is very little to emulate.
After you listen to this entertaining interview, check out Steve Sailer's lovely take on the book, which in no way ducks what made Wilson persona non grata on whatever was called the left in the '70s (they were as sorry then as they are now, burning banks in Greece, dreaming of totalitarian solutions).
... most first-time novelists aren’t octogenarians. Nor are they, typically, the world’s top expert on ants. They haven’t been famous / notorious since the 1975 publication of their scientific masterwork, Sociobiology, either. Nor are they the chief inventor of the influential cause of preserving biodiversity.
And, generally speaking, autobiographical novels don’t include a 73-page centerpiece narrating the genocidal wars between ant colonies that young Raff tracks for his Insect Study merit badge. Or at least they don’t recount them from the ants’ point of view, with dialogue exchanged via chemical secretions: “The signals now proclaimed, Food, food. I have found food, follow my trail!” (While “ant fiction” sounds odd, to say the least, Wilson, a two-time Pulitzer winner, is a crackerjack storyteller. His ant chapters are as dramatic as the finest nature documentaries.)
And while many novelists are nostalgists, few are as thoroughly pro-conservative as E. O. Wilson. When it comes to sympathetic portrayals of white Republican Southerners, Wilson’s Anthill makes the recent Sandra Bullock hit movie The Blind Side seem like a Paul Krugman op-ed.


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