The Book of Barely Imagined Beings

A 21st-Century Bestiary


Published Oct. 3, 2013 by imusti, Granta Books.


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3 stars (1 review)

4 editions

Disordered, Beautiful, Imperfect

3 stars

Twenty-seven strange critters (alphabetically, including two x's) are included in Caspar Henderson's '21st Century bestiary'. Each animal gets a section with beautiful illustrations by Golbanou Moghaddas. The illustrations are the best part of the book, each carefully and thoughtfully constructed to fit the chapters.

The book is full of fascinating information and moments of poetic thoughtfulness about humans in a world of nonhuman critters. Unfortunately, the writing often lets the bestiary down. Henderson seems incredibly well read and well travelled, and pulls from his vast knowledge, but the text is pockmarked with bizarre similes (a primate with eyes close together compared to George W Bush) and cultural references (Flesh Gordon?!). There is also no discernible structure or message – some of the chapters go into detail on their chosen creature, others barely touch on the topic and seem to forget they are part of a bestiary at all. …