Despicable Species

Overview

In fourteen gloriously revelatory essays, Lembke ponders some of the most loathsome creatures on the planet. But for every creature's nasty reputation, there is a silver lining, which Lembke brings to our attention with dazzlingly researched bits of history, science, and culture.

These beautifully written pieces are graced with fantastic allusions to Greek and Roman mythology, Shakespeare, and classical music - as well as downright hilarious personal anecdotes. It is proof of ...

See more details below
Available through our Marketplace sellers.
Other sellers (Hardcover)
  • All (32) from $1.99   
  • New (4) from $11.58   
  • Used (28) from $1.99   
Close
Sort by
Page 1 of 1
Showing 1 – 3 of 4
Note: Marketplace items are not eligible for any BN.com coupons and promotions
$11.58
Seller since 2014

Feedback rating:

(68)

Condition:

New — never opened or used in original packaging.

Like New — packaging may have been opened. A "Like New" item is suitable to give as a gift.

Very Good — may have minor signs of wear on packaging but item works perfectly and has no damage.

Good — item is in good condition but packaging may have signs of shelf wear/aging or torn packaging. All specific defects should be noted in the Comments section associated with each item.

Acceptable — item is in working order but may show signs of wear such as scratches or torn packaging. All specific defects should be noted in the Comments section associated with each item.

Used — An item that has been opened and may show signs of wear. All specific defects should be noted in the Comments section associated with each item.

Refurbished — A used item that has been renewed or updated and verified to be in proper working condition. Not necessarily completed by the original manufacturer.

New
Ships same day as ordered. Brand new.

Ships from: Lansing, KS

Usually ships in 1-2 business days

  • Canadian
  • International
  • Standard, 48 States
  • Standard (AK, HI)
  • Express, 48 States
  • Express (AK, HI)
$44.95
Seller since 2009

Feedback rating:

(2)

Condition: New
New York 1999 Hardcover First edition, as stated/first printing New in new jacket On Cowbirds, Kudzu, Hornworms, and Other Scourges. ISBN: 1558216359, [4to] ix.216p. il. ... (b/w_drawings & lithos) appendix. notes. biblio. Exlibrary, Date Due Card loosely inserted. One stamp on bottom of textblock. Otherwise, new in dj protected against wear and tear in Brodart Archival Mylar. Read more Show Less

Ships from: Bloomington, IN

Usually ships in 1-2 business days

  • Canadian
  • International
  • Standard, 48 States
  • Standard (AK, HI)
  • Express, 48 States
  • Express (AK, HI)
$50.00
Seller since 2014

Feedback rating:

(139)

Condition: New
Brand new.

Ships from: acton, MA

Usually ships in 1-2 business days

  • Standard, 48 States
  • Standard (AK, HI)
Page 1 of 1
Showing 1 – 3 of 4
Close
Sort by
Sending request ...

Overview

In fourteen gloriously revelatory essays, Lembke ponders some of the most loathsome creatures on the planet. But for every creature's nasty reputation, there is a silver lining, which Lembke brings to our attention with dazzlingly researched bits of history, science, and culture.

These beautifully written pieces are graced with fantastic allusions to Greek and Roman mythology, Shakespeare, and classical music - as well as downright hilarious personal anecdotes. It is proof of the symbiosis of all living things, and of the undeniable truth that we are all stuck with one another on this small and fragile planet. All lovers of nature and lovers of natural storytellers will love Despicable Species. (6 x 9, 232 pages, illustrations)

Read More Show Less

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
The questions that begin this likable book are straightforward enough: "How do we deal with the bad stuff? With all those disgusting, sickening, despicable, repellently alien lives that impinge on ours?" As Lembke (Shake Them 'Simmons Down, etc.) shows in her portraits of species that many people find abhorrent, the answers are much more complex. Writing with wit and insight, and drawing on her background as a linguist specializing in Greek and Latin, Lembke discusses the roles that kudzu, centipedes, horseflies, opossums, hornworms and fruit flies play in both natural ecosystems and human affairs. Not surprisingly, many of our most despised species have redeeming qualities. Centipedes eat cockroaches, starch made from kudzu is a culinary delight and the moths into which hornworms transform themselves "are not just beautiful but in some measure astonishing." While ably demonstrating the ecological interconnectedness of living things, Lembke also makes it clear that it is unlikely that whole ecosystems will collapse if any one of these species were to be lost. In her final chapter, she makes the case that, given the destruction humans have wrought throughout the world, they ought to be on her list. Lembke's classificatory scheme is idiosyncratic and may surprise many. She declares that starlings, squirrels, cowbirds and fungi are despicable, but she ignores chiggers, leeches, mosquitoes and the retrovirus responsible for AIDS. Nonetheless, when taken as the piece of natural history writing it is intended to be rather than a definitive catalogue of repulsive creatures, her book is both enjoyable and edifying, itself quite the opposite of despicable. (Oct.) Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.
Booknews
Writer and naturalist Janet Lembke offers 14 essays in which she discusses various despised species of rodent, bird, insect, fungus, microbe, and plant, musing on the ways in which they inconvenience and annoy us, even while simply doing their best to thrive and reproduce, much as does. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
From The Critics
In this volume, despicableness is an anthropomorphic judgment wielded with a broad brush by an erudite naturalist. The highly personal rendition vilifies species encountered near abodes on Ossabaw Island, Georgia, and the river Neuse, North Carolina, as well as other species suggested by family and friends. Sandburs, starlings, cowbirds, kudzu, fungi, possum, and flies are addressed with scientific care in a simultaneously classical and rustic context. Although the poison pen purports to persecute the pests presented, the picture that emerges has a palliative effect and provides a perspective that allows a deeper understanding of the organisms and ourselves. Comments on "the flinch factor" and "products that could cure us of mortality" make this work most interesting. In true naturalist fashion, the text is more of an aloof observation than biased pontification. Scientific names are routinely translated from their Greek and Latin roots. The relatives of pests are often examined to try to understand why the pest is so pestiferous. The politics of kudzu is briefly reviewed in a lucid presentation of how erosion control can conflict with maintaining the rights-of-way of utilities. Phylogeny, ontogeny, taxonomy, theory, fact, fable, and society are loosely interwoven in an entertaining way for each pest addressed. This book is a fun and insightful read. Highly Recommended, Grades 5-6. REVIEWER: Dr. Marvin K. Harris (Texas A&M University)
Kirkus Reviews
Lembke's (Shake Them 'Simmons Down, 1996) rogues' gallery of hateful creatures—from fruit flies to sandburs—considered in their biological, mythological, literary, and aesthetic aspects to bevel our fear and loathing. "Despicable" may be a bit harsh for a few of the dozen-odd species that Lembke scrutinizes here. Can one really despise a mushroom, even if it's called the Death Angel? Or the pathetic opossum? That merry prankster the gray squirrel, though he may raid our feeders, or the "small, swart, pushy" European starling, a bird with an eye for glitter and theft? Yes, they do have their faults, artfully catalogued by Lembke, though perhaps her other hate-objects are more understandable, things that rouse our ancestral timorousness like dark shadows and sudden unexpected movements. Some we abhor for the pain they inflict (the deerfly and the horsefly certainly qualify); others for behavior we find ethically repugnant, like the brown-headed cowbirds' dump-and-run tactic with their own offspring (which raises the question of how a cowbird knows its identity if the first face it sees isn't its parent). The evil flutter of a centipede is enough to send a shudder up any spine, and some living things display an aggressiveness, a tenaciousness that feels like a threat: ask a Southerner about creeping kudzu (see the vine insinuate itself into the lines of a James Dickey poem and possess it) or a Northerner about the zebra mussel, or anyone about the admittedly colorful loosestrife. And for truly ghastly survival strategies, Lembke urges readers to consider the pesky fruit fly, which takes decapitation in stride: "How do they stay alive without heads? Their nervous systemkicks in and directs them to follow normal routines in such matters as standing upright and grooming. Headless, they can live for days if they're kept moist and don't fly away." A polished, subjective gathering of detestables; every reader should be able to find one evil customer to abominate. (line drawings)
Read More Show Less

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781558216358
  • Publisher: Globe Pequot Press
  • Publication date: 10/1/1999
  • Pages: 228
  • Product dimensions: 6.18 (w) x 9.27 (h) x 0.87 (d)

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments ix
Living Together, Like It or Not: An Introduction 1
Prospect and Refuge: Sandburs 17
The Barkings of a Joyful Squirrel: Gray Squirrel 27
Murmurations: European Starling 41
The Natural History of Proteus: Pfiesteria piscicida 65
Blood: The Tabanids--Deerflies and Horseflies 77
A Foot in the Door: The Fungi 85
The Creature with Nineteen Lives: Common Opossum 95
The Riddles of the Sphinx: Hornworms 107
Legs: Centipedes 117
Heritage: Kudzu 129
The Wisdom of Nature: Brown-Headed Cowbird 155
The Dew Lovers: Drosophila Fruit Flies 165
Unfinished Business: Homo sapiens 181
Appendix The Despicables Ratings 197
Notes 205
For the Bookworm: A Reading Guide 209
Read More Show Less

Customer Reviews

Be the first to write a review
( 0 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(0)

4 Star

(0)

3 Star

(0)

2 Star

(0)

1 Star

(0)

Your Rating:

Your Name: Create a Pen Name or

Barnes & Noble.com Review Rules

Our reader reviews allow you to share your comments on titles you liked, or didn't, with others. By submitting an online review, you are representing to Barnes & Noble.com that all information contained in your review is original and accurate in all respects, and that the submission of such content by you and the posting of such content by Barnes & Noble.com does not and will not violate the rights of any third party. Please follow the rules below to help ensure that your review can be posted.

Reviews by Our Customers Under the Age of 13

We highly value and respect everyone's opinion concerning the titles we offer. However, we cannot allow persons under the age of 13 to have accounts at BN.com or to post customer reviews. Please see our Terms of Use for more details.

What to exclude from your review:

Please do not write about reviews, commentary, or information posted on the product page. If you see any errors in the information on the product page, please send us an email.

Reviews should not contain any of the following:

  • - HTML tags, profanity, obscenities, vulgarities, or comments that defame anyone
  • - Time-sensitive information such as tour dates, signings, lectures, etc.
  • - Single-word reviews. Other people will read your review to discover why you liked or didn't like the title. Be descriptive.
  • - Comments focusing on the author or that may ruin the ending for others
  • - Phone numbers, addresses, URLs
  • - Pricing and availability information or alternative ordering information
  • - Advertisements or commercial solicitation

Reminder:

  • - By submitting a review, you grant to Barnes & Noble.com and its sublicensees the royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable right and license to use the review in accordance with the Barnes & Noble.com Terms of Use.
  • - Barnes & Noble.com reserves the right not to post any review -- particularly those that do not follow the terms and conditions of these Rules. Barnes & Noble.com also reserves the right to remove any review at any time without notice.
  • - See Terms of Use for other conditions and disclaimers.
Search for Products You'd Like to Recommend

Recommend other products that relate to your review. Just search for them below and share!

Create a Pen Name

Your Pen Name is your unique identity on BN.com. It will appear on the reviews you write and other website activities. Your Pen Name cannot be edited, changed or deleted once submitted.

 
Your Pen Name can be any combination of alphanumeric characters (plus - and _), and must be at least two characters long.

Continue Anonymously

    If you find inappropriate content, please report it to Barnes & Noble
    Why is this product inappropriate?
    Comments (optional)