I 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:
- Trevor Corson’s website and his blog, the Scrawling Claw
- The Secret Life of Lobsters website
- Corson quoted in a NYT article about the price of lobster
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!