Beastly tales

I just reviewed another work of nonfiction for my alma mater, The Miami Herald -- the book is Zoo Story by Thomas French and the review ran yesterday. I liked the book a lot -- it was obviously based on years of reporting, which is the sort of thing that the St. Petersburg Times has been able and willing to do -- and which may be pretty darn scarce on the ground in the future, even at papers owned by nonprofit foundations. The story follows the expansion and consequences of that expansion at Tampa's Lowry Park Zoo, where the CEO pushed for an ambitious new Safari Africa exhibit featuring elephants imported from a game preserve in Swaziland. French makes characters out of some of the zoo's animals, which is dangerous -- my only problem with Mike Capuzzo's otherwise excellent Close to Shore was when he claimed to be inside the shark's head -- but French navigates the perilous territory very well, describing more of what happens to the animals than pretending to know what they're thinking.

The same book is reviewed today by Salon's Laura Miller, one of the best book reviewers in the business. Not that I'm intimidated or anything.