Chapter 16
A Community of Tennessee Writers, Readers & Passersby

Engaging Ontogeny—and Animal Sex

Michael Sims discusses biological and literary creativity

Where do babies come from? It may be a child’s question, but the answer is far from simple, especially if we consider the baby-making processes of the whole animal kingdom, as Michael Sims does in his companion to the National Geographic Channel’s television special of the same name, In the Womb: Animals. It features ultrasound images of fetal animals that are so detailed and vivid it’s almost hard to believe they aren’t simulations.

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Good Clean Crime

With The Penguin Book of Gaslight Crime, Michael Sims assembles a collection of tales about genteel fin-de-siècle con artists

Michael Sims is a longtime fan of early crime fiction, with a particular taste for caper stories told from the criminal’s point of view. His new book features a dozen colorful miscreants, including little-known creations by O. Henry and Sinclair Lewis, along with background material and author profiles.

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Roadside Zoo

Just another life-or-death road trip

On a trip to Maine, my wife and I saw more dead animals than live ones. I became morbidly fascinated by them. That smudge on the road was amphibian, I would think, his cold humor drawn to the stone warmth of highway on a passionate night. Overturned, an ottoman would aim its wooden legs like this dead possum. The immigrant coyote? A wild rug flung on the carpeted ditch. And all those raccoons, their comic bandit role forgotten in these deathbed scenes.

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The Humanitarian's Dilemma

A soft touch navigates the food chain

One freezing Monday in January, I stopped at the big box pet emporium to buy my dogs their kibble and treats. As I stepped out of the car I saw a white mutt standing about thirty feet away, surveying the parking lot with that mixture of confidence and wariness that is the hallmark of long-term strays. I called him. As I expected, he acknowledged me but kept his distance. Dogs that are newly lost will either come straight to you or run away in a panic. This guy was clearly hardcore homeless.

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