Apr 30, 2011

Kingdom Under Glass

by Jay Kirk

I've recognized the name of Carl Akeley before, but until reading this book wasn't quite sure why he was famous. He was a taxidermist in the late 1800's, a man passionate about his work. He wanted to be known as an artist, not just someone who butchered animals to stuff their skins for display. He discovered new methods of preparing specimens so they were incredibly lifelike and showed the actual form of muscles, veins, etc. The entire time I was reading the book I kept thinking of all the animals I've marveled at when I visit the Museum of Natural History (particularly for drawing practice). But Akeley didn't just work in a studio to create lifelike animal displays. He also went into the field to collect specimens himself. I was just getting to that part of the book when I started to loose interest and put it down. It's not the book's fault. Just that the further I read the harder it is to hold my attention. The narrative often takes long asides into describing scenery and localities particular to the times; which is interesting but sometimes feels like it just wanders too far. And right now I'm simply more interested in gardening stuff. So when two gardening-related books came for me on the hold shelf, I set this one aside to read Coop and Farm City instead.

I picked this book up at the library, just browsing the shelves. The title intrigued me, and then the subject even more from reading the flyleaf. I feel pretty sure I do want to come back to Kingdom Under Glass someday; it just isn't the one for me right now.

Abandoned ........ 387 pages, 2010

more opinions at:
Fyrefly's Book Blog
anyone else?


Jenny said...

I don't do well with long descriptions of scenery myself, but the innovations in taxidermy sound interesting.

Anonymous said...

Not sure if I could handle 378 pages about taxidermy and dead critters! But the writing sounds interesting (minus the tangents, which I never seem to do super well with!). I'll have to keep my eyes out for this one to give it a closer look. Thanks for a great review!

Bookwyrme said...

That is an awesome title. I can't decide whether I'm interested enough in taxidermy to pick up the book, but I am completely in love with the title.

Jeane said...

Jenny- They really made my mind wander. I was mostly interested in the taxidermy stuff; the travel parts were good still but not quite as intriguing.

Wereadtoknow- Well, it's not all about how he stuffed dead animals! There's lots on his travels to collect specimens- several pages about suffering of thirst in the desert, or things like pages and pages about a world's fair.... overall interesting.

Bookwyrme- The title was really what grabbed me, too.