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Review: The Secret Life of Lobsters

the secret life of lobstersI have to admit, I wouldn’t have picked up The Secret Life of Lobsters by Trevor Corson if it wasn’t one of the required books for my literary journalism class because the topic — lobsters and the people that love them — isn’t something I would normally read about. But Corson’s book is so good that in the end I found myself both entertained by the story and invested in discovering the hidden secrets of the lobster.

The main narrative mystery of the story is trying to figure out what is happening with the fluctuating lobster population near the Cranberry Islands. Corson uses characters to drive the story, doing funny and accurate profiles of various lobstermen, their families, and scientists that are passionate about the lobsters. In some ways it is funny to read about the humans’ obsessions, but by the time I finished the book I found myself also wanting to know the answers to their questions. Not enough to quit grad school and become a lobster scientist, but enough to think about lobsters more than I ever would have before.

Sometimes Corson’s effort to cast similarities between the lobsters and the humans that love lobsters is a little clunky. For example, there is an entire chapter on the mating habits of lobsters. In the middle of learning that female lobsters use smells to seduce dominant male lobsters into having sex with them, we read the story of two lobster fisherpeople falling in love. I can’t decide if it was more weird to think about lobster sex in human terms or human courtship in lobster-terms, but either way it was funny (if a little obvious).

In any case, that’s a really minor critique. I love books that take make a simple, everyday topic interesting through good storytelling and good writing, and this book certainly does that well.  I definitely recommend you try and pick up a copy if you can find it. Corson just recently came out with another book, The Story of Sushi, that I am going to try and read as well.

Links to Enjoy:

Other Reviews: book-a-rama; Passion for the Page

If you have reviewed this book, please leave a link to the review in the comments and I will add your review to the main post. All I ask is for you to do the same to mine — thanks!

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • bermudaonion December 13, 2008, 7:56 pm

    That does sound interesting – I love the cover too.

  • Kim December 14, 2008, 11:51 am

    bermudaonion: Yes, I like the cover too. The cover of the sushi book looks similar.

  • bkclubcare December 14, 2008, 12:14 pm

    I’ve read this! and I adored it! A friend gave me this book because I collect lobsters. This would be a book I would keep if I kept books; I think I ‘loaned’ it to someone. sigh…

  • Kim December 14, 2008, 1:43 pm

    bkclubcare: You collect lobsters? Like, live lobsters or lobster figurines or what? I’m really intrigued by that! I’m keeping this book, since I love to keep books 🙂

  • bkclubcare December 15, 2008, 11:46 am

    Yep – lobster figurines and dishes. I’ll post about my lobster tree soon and a few other things… (I LOVE to show off my lobsters…)

  • Kim December 15, 2008, 3:09 pm

    bkclubcare: That’s awesome! I would love to see pictures of your lobster tree 🙂

  • bkclubcare December 18, 2008, 7:49 am
  • Kim December 19, 2008, 11:48 am

    bkclubcare: That is so great, thank you for posting about it!

  • Jeanne September 24, 2009, 1:40 pm

    I came back to this review after seeing you give the book to your sister. Although I don’t read much nonfiction, I also enjoyed this book. I picked it up because I am interested in lobsters–especially in whether I should be popping them into pots– and I read it in conjunction with David Foster Wallace’s essays Consider the Lobster. Looking forward to the sister review!