What a glorious book! The work is divided into sections, each beginning with the description of an animal taken from H.D. Northrop’s 1897 Marvels of Natural History, and accompanied by illustrations from the same text. The book tells a story through the musings and letters between a mother and daughter. The mother is a boat captain on an expedition. Her husband has just been eaten by a boa constrictor on one of the stops the boat makes. The young daughter has been left behind. As the story unfolds, the daughter grows up and marries H.D. Northrop, who is much older and, well, dead before she is born. Intrigued? Buy here.
From an untitled piece, written by the mother to the daughter, in the section of a double cat-fish (an animal that is described as two catfish joined together):
If we say we are fish then are we are we then are we inextricably combined? And where fits our corpse, dear dad, my Esteban? Can we lump him on with you, honey, so you have to hump him up mountains while I fly these skies myriad for treasures to bring back to you, for pearls to strew around your neck, diamonds with which to kiss your rosy cheeks and etc?
From a letter written to H.D. Northrop by the daughter:
I read your obituary thingy in the newspaper. I’ve attached it here for your perusal. Don’t you think you’re being kind of a dick about the whole thing? I do! I’m not even born yet and I think you stink with actual stink lines of repugnance. It’s my own special problem that I’m already in love with you and you are an asshole. How will I live the rest of my life like this? I’m going to be one of those swooning girls, aren’t I, Northrop, lying back onto couches and fanning myself, bright red of face and fuming of temper.