»Timothy, or, Notes of an Abject Reptile

Timothy the tortoise can live longer than a Selborn resident, longer than a bishop. He figures from an 18th-century narrative by the naturalist Gilbert White. Drawing from White's natural history, Verlyn Klinkenborg presents Timothy's perspective on the human and animal comings and goings in Selborn. The gentle staccato of Timothy's narration weaves a comfortable, bucolic cloth for a story with neither beginning nor end.

Verlyn Klinkenborg is one of America's most insightful and thoughtful writers, and his Timothy, or, Notes of an Abject Reptile makes for superb reading.

White's The Natural History of Selborne is one of the most-printed works in English (although Klinkenborg notes that it has just fallen out of print for the first time in centuries); it contains White's detailed notes on his household and environs, and forms the primary source for Timothy's observations and musings in Notes. White also developed the ha-ha, a sunken fence used in landscaping and zookeeping. The Bronx Zoo features a sweeping view across its replica savannah, but a ha-ha keeps the lions confined to their area while the gazelle and impala gallop past. (White would not aspirate the first syllable, pronouncing it "a-ha" rather than "ha-ha"); the San Francisco Zoo used other fences, less effectively.

salim filed this under books at 01h52 Monday, 31 December 2007 (link) (Yr two bits?)