The Ape and the Sushi Master

de Waal, Frans. The Ape and the Sushi Master: Cultural Reflections of a Primatologist. New York: Basic Books, 2001.

Reason read: October is gorilla month.

Frans de Waal believes in the possibility that animals have culture. In the beginning of his book he spends some time talking about how we, as humans, apply human emotion to animals. He uses the example of Binti Jua, the ape at the Chicago zoo who “saved” and protected the little boy back in 1996. He couldn’t comment on the incident at the Cincinnati zoo when Harambe was shot dead for fear of purposefully drowning a child. What would he have said about that? As an aside, I admit I am guilty of applying emotion to animal behavior. When my cat Cassidy went missing I swore her “brother” missed her. Do I know that for fact? No. But, he did act strangely for the duration of her absence so I would like to think he did.
But, back to the point. Do animals have cultural instinct that they follow? Do they learn by copying others? Is habit passed down from one generation to another?

My only pet peeve? I felt as if part of The Ape and the Sushi Master was a plug for Bonobo: the Forgotten Ape, another book written by de Waal. He spent a great deal of time in Ape/Sushi referring back to the sexuality of bonobos discussed in Bonobo. As they say, sex sells so I have to wonder how many people looked up this other book after reading Ape.

Lines to grab my attention: “As someone who occasionally forgets where he has parked an item as large and as significant as his car, I am impressed by these peanut-brained birds” (p 58).

Author fact: At the time of publication, Frans de Waal was a professor at Emory University.

Book trivia: The Ape and the Sushi Master has great illustrations as well as photographs.

BookLust Twist: from Book Lust in the chapter called “Our Primates, Ourselves” (p ). As an aside, I think Pearl took the chapter title, “Our Primates, Ourselves” straight from a Ape and the Sushi Master quote. Early on de Waal says his book is “about how we see animals, how we see ourselves, and the nature of culture” (p 6).


Books and Spooks

If you have been keeping up with me, myself and moi then you know we love Halloween. Odd. Odd because we can’t watch Walking Dead or go to Fright Fest without peeing our pants. What I love about Halloween is the potential for witchcraft, darkness & something intangibly spooky, if that makes sense. I love mysteries and there is no greater mystery than death. Right? Jack-o-Laterns glowing on doorsteps. Ominous crows watching silently from the trees. Candlelight shadows wavering on the wall. Cemeteries shrouded in the fog…I love it all.
In other news, I bailed for the first time ever on a half marathon but made it home-home to put up a ceiling for my mother. And speaking of Monhegan, we almost got caught in Hurricane Matthew! Somehow we managed to get out just in time.
Having said all that, unrelatedly here are the books:

  • The Saturdays by Elizabeth Enright – to continue the series started last month in honor of Enright’s birth month. Took me two days to read.
  • Merry Misogynist by Colin Cotterill – to continue the series started last May in honor of Rocket Day. Took me two days to read.
  • Texaco by Patrick Chamoiseau – in honor of magical realism month. Took me the entire month and I still didn’t finish it.
  • A Blessing on the Moon by Joseph Skibell – an audio book in honor of Halloween (this was my favorite story).
  • Drink to Yesterday by Manning Coles – in honor of Octoberfest in Germany. Another really short book.
  • The Ape and the Sushi Master by Frans de Waal – in honor of Gorilla month being in October.
  • The Aeneid by Virgil – in honor of Poetry month (celebrated in Great Britain).
  • Hush by Jacqueline Woodsen – an audio book in honor of kids. This was only three discs long.

For fun:

  • The Code of the Extraordinary Mind by Vishen Lakhiani because I saw it in a running magazine.

For LibraryThing: nada


Aught to be October

October is…another half marathon. Maybe another trip to Monhegan (not sure yet thanks to it being hurricane season) but what I’m sure about is definitely reading more, more, more books!

  • Texaco by Patrick Chamoiseau – in honor of magical realism month
  • The Merry Misogynist by Colin Cotterill – to continue the series started in May in honor of Laos Rocket Day
  • A Blessing on the Moon by Joseph Skibell (AB) – in honor of Halloween
  • Toast to Tomorrow by Manning Coles – in honor of October being the best time to visit Germany. Note: just found out this is the second Tommy Hambledon book in the series so you will probably see A Drink to Yesterday before A Toast to Tomorrow.
  • Ape and the Sushi Master by Frans de Waal – in honor of October being Gorilla Month
  • The Saturdays by Elizabeth Enright – to “continue” the series started in September in honor of Enright’s birth month (yes, another series read slightly out of order).

For fun:

  • The Code of the Extraordinary Mind by Vishen Lakhiani. Don’t ask.

If there is time I would like to add Aeneid by Virgil in honor of Great Britain’s poetry month.