The Red Hourglass: Lives of the Predators

The Red Hourglass is a memoir of my adventures with the most fascinating predators I know. It received favorable reviews in the New York Times and more than thirty other newspapers and magazines, and was named on best-of-the-year lists by the New York Public Library, the Los Angeles Times, and PEN Center West. I read from The Red Hourglass on National Public Radio's All Things Considered.

"This is first-rate, unsentimental writing about nature and about the ways that human beings try to cope with the most terrible cruelties that nature offers up."--The New York Times

"An absolutely spellbinding book."--Elle

"Gordon Grice is one hell of a writer. I was originally disturbed by some of the killing he depicts, but his descriptions are so compelling that I had to read on. I'm glad I did. Grice pays close attention to the creatures he writes about, and it really pays off. The Red Hourglass is an absolutely first-rate book." --Jeffrey Masson, author of When Elephants Weep

"The most interesting collection of essays I've read in years."--Arkansas Democrat Gazette

"Gordon Grice's essays hold the reader in their spell, and then carry him beyond the usual romance of the insect and animal world to something darker and far more interesting: Nature's Gothic. The Red Hourglass marks the debut of a fresh, strange, and wonderful new voice in American nature writing."--Michael Pollan, author of The Omnivore's Dilemma

"Elegant, and wryly funny."--Esquire

"A precise and savage blow aimed at our predatory supremacy--I wolfed it down."--Will Self, author of Great Apes

"First-rate. . . Feisty, felicitous prose."--Publishers Weekly

"Grice's fusion of scientific and literary gifts converts dangerous and ugly predators--including tarantulas, rattlesnakes, black widow spiders, and jungle pigs--into objects of fascination. . . He weaves an expert's knowledge of biology into an engrossing tapestry of personal narrative and philosophical reflection. . . . Inviting comparisons with Lewis Thomas and Peter Medawar, this book will delight those interested in either animals or literature."--Booklist

"Chilling. . . fascinating."--Houston Chronicle

"The stories can be gruesome, but they grip you because Grice never blinks . . . . The quality of his attention to the facts of life and his willingness to look the awful and the repellent straight in the eyes will earn your admiration."--Men's Journal

"A superb book. . . . Grice possesses the combination of a 9-year-old's fascination and an adult's common sense. . . . His reactions are enchantingly lyrical."--Los Angeles Times

"Eye-popping. . . . Grice combines homespun observations with biological facts, flavoring his findings with just the right measure of philosophical spice."--Entertainment Weekly

1. Black Widow

Read excerpts from this chapter online:

“There in the darkness I see something round as a flensed human skull, glinting like chipped obsidian, scarred with a pair of crimson triangles.”

"I do not recall having seen more abject pain manifested in any other medical or surgical condition."

2. Mantid

(Or "praying mantis," if you prefer.) Read a short excerpt here:

“The fight went on for another five minutes or so, the black cat eating, the green mantid still waving his limbs in protest.”

3. Rattlesnake

Read an excerpt here:
"It lies half-coiled in a stand of dusty green weeds, its jaw against the ground to catch the vibrations of any moving thing. Its forked black tongue slips out of its closed mouth, slashes in several directions, and slips back in. It is licking up particles of airborne scent and brushing them against the mass of olfactory nerves in the roof of its mouth."

4. Tarantula
5. Pig
6. Canid
7. Recluse

The Red Hourglass: Lives of the Predators on Amazon

The Red Hourglass on Barnes & Noble

The Red Hourglass at an independent bookstore

The Red Hourglass at Borders

Red Hourglass : Lives of the Predators (99 Edition) on

Update for July 28

Serious dog attacks occur every day. I usually don’t report them here because they’re so common they’re hardly news. I’ll make an exception this week because of a couple of especially gruesome cases.

A three-year-old boy died in Jackson, Mississippi, as a result of being mauled by a pit bull. Here’s a follow-up story. In Michigan, a ten-year-old boy had to have his arm amputated after the family dog attacked him. Here's another article on the Michigan attack. Another notable case occurred in Brazil, where an 11-year-old boy bit a dog. The dog bit him first. The boy lost a canine tooth.

In Italy, a wounded deer created chaos and injured two people.

A grizzly bear attacked a woman in Cooper Landing, Alaska, leaving her in critical condition. A man camping in Gallatin National Forest near Yellowstone received minor injuries when a grizzly attacked him in his tent. We have reports posted by KVAL-TV, KPTV, and the Orlando Sentinel.

Near Caliente, California, a woman drove herself to help after being mauled by a black bear. Her wounds required ten hours of surgery. Her son describes her injuries in this follow-up article.

One more bear item:
In Sri Lanka, sloth bear populations are on the decline. These bears occasionally kill people in defensive attacks.

Newsflavor has a sampler of captive animals—performers, pets, zoo specimens—that have killed people.

Here’s more on the coyote-human conflicts in Southern California. The Mercury-News reports that recent wildfires may contribute to coyote problems.

A gray fox attacked two people in Pine Island. In Florida, a man shot his wife while trying to defend her against a fox. The woman escaped with a minor wound; the fox died.

Here’s a profile of shark expert Andy Dehart. If you can get past the hype for lame TV documentaries, you’ll find some interesting information here.

Here’s an interesting article on using forensic science in wildlife-related cases. It mentions last week’s bogus cougar attack story. Apparently, false reports of this kind are common.

Update for July 21

The Statesville Record and Landmark reports on increasing coyote populations in North Carolina. The article contains some good information about coyote behavior.

In Martins Creek, North Carolina, an animal attacked a 10-year-old girl and the woman who tried to protect her. Authorities think it was a gray fox. They’re investigating the possibility of rabies. By the way, it’s not too unusual for animal attack victims to feel unsure what attacked them. Real animals don’t always look like they do in picture books, and a scary situation can make it hard to notice the right details. Another 10-year-old girl was bitten by a rabid fox in Pittsfield, Massachusetts. Her father and a friend killed the animal. From the newspaper description, this would appear to have been a red fox. The article has some good background on rabies. Yet another fox attack occurred in Bridgewater, Massachusetts. The persistent fox injured a 71-year-old woman.

Here’s an interesting post about leopards and lions attacking vehicles in South Africa’s Kruger National Park.

This photo essay by Hal Brindley shows a leopard preying on a crocodile in Kruger. Lots of other nifty wildlife shots here as well.

A large kangaroo mauled a woman near Mudgee, New South Wales, Australia. "Her face has been ripped apart, her hand has been mauled, and she's got scratches all over her back and concussion," her son said. A pet dog chased the kangaroo away. Kangaroos are thought to behave more aggressively toward humans when food and water are scarce. The kangaroo population around mudgee has been high recently.

News Update for July 15

In Yellowstone National Park, a 12-year-old tourist had a minor dust-up with a bison. Guess who won?

Rabies season continues with fox attacks in Virginia and Pennsylvania and a feral cat case in Maryland. The woman attacked in Pennsylvania required surgery.

A seagull attacked a woman in Somerset, England. The news story makes the usual references to the Hitchcock movie.

The latest reports of coyotes killing pets come from Cincinnati and from Larga Vista, California. At Cal State-Long Beach, coyotes have been preying on semi-feral cats.

Here’s a blog entry about traveling in bear country. I recommend the book mentioned here, Stephen Herrero’s Bear Attacks. On the other side of the world, there’s a sketchy report of bear attacks in eastern India.

In Palo Alto, California, a cougar allegedly attacked a man in a park. The man escaped with no serious injuries. Authorities were unable to substantiate his story.

There was also a cougar sighting in a residential area of Banning, California.

In a rural area of India, villagers have taken to living in trees after attacks by elephants, tigers, and leopards.

Update for July 8: Bear attacks and more

A brown bear attacked a 14-year-old girl during a bike race in Anchorage, Alaska. Here are reports on the incident from the Telegraph and the Kansas City Star. NewsBlaze has more on recent bear attacks in Kashmir.

Knute Berger surveys animal attack stories on Crosscut.

Rabies season continues with more fox attacks, this time in Utica, New York, and a cat attack in Massachusetts.

News Round-up

Recent news items of interest:

Newsday reports redwinged blackbirds dive-bombing people in Chicago. (Scroll down to the third item.) Many bird species launch similar attacks. Some attacks are simply territorial, while others are meant to protect hatchlings. Humans are not the only victims of this mobbing behavior—dogs, cats, birds of prey, and others may also be attacked. I often pass a certain redwinged blackbird on my morning walks who objects to my presence. Clearly I come too near a nest, though I haven’t figured out exactly where it is so I can avoid it. So far the bird is content to merely threaten me. I’ll let you know if he gets physical.

Crows have been up to the same thing in Seattle. An article in the Post-Intelligencer offers some good background on the habituation of wild animals to humans, including coyotes and bears.

In Neosho, Missouri, a black leopard came scratching at the back door of a home. The resident wisely called for help. The deputy who responded to the call had to kill the cat when it charged him. Leopards are not native to the Americas. This one may be an escaped pet. Captive cats are a growing problem in the US.

Near Pinos Altos, New Mexico, a cougar killed a man who lived alone in a trailer. Law enforcement officers wounded the cat to drive it away from the missing man’s trailer. They later found his remains in the woods. This was a predatory attack. Here's another article about it.

Fox attacks are in the news again, this time in South Carolina.

Here’s an interesting article about the danger hybrid carnivores pose for livestock in Australia.

In Lubbock, Texas, bees swarmed a family of five in their home. One child suffered more than 30 stings.

The Salt Lake Tribune has advice about dealing with dangerous wildlife in Utah. The bear advice applies to black bears, not to the grizzlies people might encounter in other areas. Playing dead sometimes works with grizzlies because they often attack for reasons other than hunger, such as defense of cubs and a touchy territorial sense. Black bears seldom attack, but when they do, it’s usually because they mean to eat you.

In Florida, a young man lost an arm to an alligator after an ill-advised late-night swim. This was yet another instance of how poorly alcohol and crocodilians mix. Here’s an interesting commentary on the event.

In Kenya, an elderly man died after defending his adult son from a hyena attack. The son was also injured.

Here’s an article about the incursion of lionfish into Florida waters. Lionfish have venomous spines that can hurt people who step on or handle them. It should be noted that alarmist stories about impending animal “invasions” are a staple of news reports. The dire consequences you read about in such stories rarely materialize.

MSNBC has a follow-up story about a man who was mauled by a grizzly a few weeks ago in British Columbia.

In South Korea, wild boars and people have been in conflict. The boars have killed livestock and people and destroyed crops.

In Arizona, a javelina bit a tourist.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...