Invisible Beasts

Invisible Beasts

Sharona Muir

Language: English

Pages: 256

ISBN: 1934137804

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub


International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award Longlist
Orion Book Award Finalist
O, The Oprah Magazine “Title to Pick Up Now”

“An amazing feat of imagination.” —Publishers Weekly (starred review)

Invisible Beasts is a strange and beautiful meditation on love and seeing, a hybrid of fantasy and field guide, novel and essay, treatise and fable. With one hand it offers a sad commentary on environmental degradation, while with the other it presents a bright, whimsical, and funny exploration of what it means to be human. It’s wonderfully written, crazily imagined, and absolutely original.” —ANTHONY DOERR, author of All the Light We Cannot See and The Shell Collector

Sophie is an amateur naturalist with a rare genetic gift: the ability to see a marvelous kingdom of invisible, sentient creatures that share a vital relationship with humankind. To record her observations, Sophie creates a personal bestiary and, as she relates the strange abilities of these endangered beings, her tales become extraordinary meditations on love, sex, evolution, extinction, truth, and self-knowledge.

In the tradition of E.O. Wilson’s Anthill, Invisible Beasts is inspiring, philosophical, and richly detailed fiction grounded by scientific fact and a profound insight into nature. The fantastic creations within its pages—an ancient animal that uses natural cold fusion for energy, a species of vampire bat that can hear when their human host is lying, a continent-sized sponge living under the ice of Antarctica—illuminate the role that all living creatures play in the environment and remind us of what we stand to lose if we fail to recognize our entwined destinies.

Sharona Muir is the author of The Book of Telling: Tracing the Secrets of My Father’s Lives. The recipient of a Hodder Fellowship and National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship, her writing has appeared in Granta, Orion magazine, Virginia Quarterly Review, The Paris Review, and elsewhere. She is a Professor of Creative Writing and English at Bowling Green State University. Invisible Beasts is her first novel.

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valves, thumbtack-sized “scales” covering the Worm changed attitude, like ailerons, so that segments of it bristled or lay smooth, in recognizable patterns. Meanwhile, the sensors, through remote pickups, fed blooms of data into a digital console, where my sister sat dangling her short legs from an ergonomic stool. In the artificial twilight, Evie’s white lab coat was an eerie noncolor that reached behind my eyes. Wielding an automatic pipette, she squirted ingredients through a filtering lid

bright accurate language, animals real or imaginary in an updated bestiary that riffs on evolution, extinction, and what it means to be human among other species.” —John Felstiner, author of Can Poetry Save the Earth?: A Field Guide to Nature Poems “Muir’s intelligence and breadth of knowledge are exceptional. You could not find a better little book of ethics, politics, and ecology for our time.” —Regenia Gagnier, author of The Insatiability of Human Wants and Individualism, Decadence and

would open down to its molecules. So we shaped each other, and were satisfied. Now, when I lit my fire and sat before it, my dog knew better than to steal my crackers. He took them from my hand and placed each cracker on the floor, to lick it, nudge it, give it some thought. Like his human, he had a contemplative 96 t Invisible Beasts personality. When he finished eating, a wolf ’s shadow rippled through the firelight on the wall. Then my dog laid his head on my knee, curled his tail around

“its body”? Sponges have no body organs, no muscles, no nerves, no digestive systems. Whereas a microscopic water flea has the same striated muscle cells that you have. Such sophistication is light-years beyond your ordinary sponge, which is, basically, an entropy-reducing pocket in the water that perpetuates itself. And this unconscious thing, this jelly without a belly, makes glass—a major industrial product—the way you make daydreams, effortlessly, under the cold deep ocean. How does the

ceiling . . . nice velociraptor.” It wasn’t nonsense, after all. Leif had been reassuring Toto, a creature on the ceiling, who reminded him of a velociraptor. That could only mean one thing. My nephew could see invisible beasts. And for the last two evenings, over dinner, he’d heard the adults chaffing Aunt Sophie about the alligator she thought she’d seen on the trail. And alligators were Leif ’s passion, his obsession, and I began to move toward the forest as a runner heads into a collapsing

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