Observations on the History and Habitat of the City's Most Unwanted Inhabitants
by Robert Sullivan
I was disappointed in Rats. I did not enjoy it much. At halfway through the book I started just skimming, and reading the parts that were actually about rats, but even those got to be dull or just plain gross. I was expecting the book to be all about rat behavior and ecology and how smart they are, always outwitting those trying to kill them. It starts out promising enough, this guy finding an obscure New York alley where trash from two restaurants accumulates, and he settles in to watch the rat colony there. But his descriptions aren't interesting. He never finds out anything new about rats himself. He doesn't pick apart their habits or social structure, or even recognize any individuals. There is an awful lot about efforts cities make to eradicate rats, and different methods of exterminators; Sullivan even goes to pest-control conventions to meet the big names in rat control. But there are so many long passages in the book that go into rambling historical jaunts describing people who have some vague connection to rats or some really buried history about the particular alley itself. It was just so dull. Equally boring the numerous detailed descriptions of every character Sullivan met or talked about, but the rats themselves? even the ones he finally trapped and viewed up close? you just get: it was a really big rat and not much else. If you like to read about obscure city history loosely tied to rats, this might be your book, but it didn't really work for me.
I do really like the cover, though. Borrowed this one from the public library. Don't remember how it first got on my reading list.
Rating: 2/5 ........ 242 pages, 2004
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