Tuesday, August 10, 2010



Cockroach / Marion Copeland
London : Reaktion Books, 2003
200 p.
Animal Series

Cockroaches are horrible. I'm pretty sure I've got legitimate katsaridaphobia, your word of the day, which means "fear of cockroaches." It's probably common, but a few weeks ago I saw a giant one in my otherwise pristine bathroom, and I stood there paralyzed for almost 20 minutes sweating before I was able to back up and get my spray. The spray is awesome because it has an incredible range, so I hit it from all the way across the room and the thing went NUTSO and started COMING AT ME, so I ran backwards and kept the spray drowning it, and it was twitching and going nuts but still running until finally it gave in and died. Ugh, it still freaks me out just thinking about it!

Anyway, I had this book Cockroach on my shelf because it's part of this neat animal series. It's basically a survey of the cockroach in the human experience, starting with science and taking a look at psychology, human relations, art, and literature and how perceptions of the cockroach have shaped and been shaped by different cultures over the years.

It's interesting, if not entirely coherent. Copeland doesn't seem to be leading to any particular thesis, instead just riffing for 200 pages on mankind's most loved and loathed insect. It's good.

The author lingers on the literary more than anything else, so I wasn't surprised when I looked her up and saw that her background is in literature. This isn't a criticism, though I did approach the book hoping for more on cockroach iconography.

Although the book was good, I do have one criticism: IT DIDN'T WORK! I thought it would help me see the beauty and life in these infesting abominations, but I had another one in my house yesterday and I was still terrified and killed by dumping poison on it. Sorry, dudes. Just stay out of my house.

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