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Interview: Mary Roach Investigates Science's Funniest, Strangest Corners

Fuzz
'Any time I find a little pocket of science that I didn't know about I get very excited'
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  • Fuzz
  • 'Any time I find a little pocket of science that I didn't know about I get very excited'

Publisher's Summary

One of Audible's Best of 2021

AudioFile Magazine's Best Audiobooks of 2021

An Instant New York Times Bestseller

#1 Los Angeles Times Bestseller

#1 Indie Hardcover Nonfiction Bestseller

A Washington Post and Publishers Weekly Best Nonfiction Book of 2021

Longlisted for the 2022 Andrew Carnegie Medal for Excellence in Nonfiction

Join "America’s funniest science writer" (Peter Carlson, Washington Post), Mary Roach, on an irresistible investigation into the unpredictable world where wildlife and humans meet.

What’s to be done about a jaywalking moose? A bear caught breaking and entering? A murderous tree? Three hundred years ago, animals that broke the law would be assigned legal representation and put on trial. These days, as New York Times best-selling author Mary Roach discovers, the answers are best found not in jurisprudence but in science: the curious science of human-wildlife conflict, a discipline at the crossroads of human behavior and wildlife biology.

Roach tags along with animal-attack forensics investigators, human-elephant conflict specialists, bear managers, and "danger tree" faller blasters. Intrepid as ever, she travels from leopard-terrorized hamlets in the Indian Himalaya to St. Peter’s Square in the early hours before the pope arrives for Easter Mass, when vandal gulls swoop in to destroy the elaborate floral display. She taste-tests rat bait, learns how to install a vulture effigy, and gets mugged by a macaque.

Combining little-known forensic science and conservation genetics with a motley cast of laser scarecrows, langur impersonators, and trespassing squirrels, Roach reveals as much about humanity as about nature’s lawbreakers. When it comes to "problem" wildlife, she finds, humans are more often the problem - and the solution. Fascinating, witty, and humane, Fuzz offers hope for compassionate coexistence in our ever-expanding human habitat.

©2021 by Mary Roach. (P)2021 Brilliance Publishing, Inc., all rights reserved.

Critic Reviews

“Roach is an observant and witty writer with an eye for detail and a passion for facts. As it turns out, she is also a remarkably skilled narrator with a pleasant mid-range voice. She reads with verve, and her phrasing and pacing keep the text moving while enabling our laughter or stunned amazement. Roach also re-creates accents, conversations, and speech patterns like the best mimic. What a delightful and informative listen.” (AudioFile Magazine, Earphones Award Winner)

"An idiosyncratic tour with Roach as the wisecracking, ever-probing guide... My favorite moments, ultimately, weren’t the funny ones, but those that reveal a bit of scientific poetry." (Vicki Constantine Croke, New York Times Book Review)

"Bestseller Roach sheds light on nature’s malefactors in this often funny, always provocative survey...Roach’s writing is wry, full of heart, and loaded with intriguing facts...This eminently entertaining outing is another winner from Roach." (Publishers Weekly, starred review)

Editor's Pick

When science, nature, and humor collide
If I were a science writer, I’d want to be Mary Roach. Her brilliance is multifaceted: from the topics she picks to how she finds the most expert experts in whatever field she is exploring and then asks them the questions her fans might be too timid to ask themselves or never even think to ask. She gets people to tell the best tales, always teaching me something new, and making me cringe and laugh out loud at the same time. In Fuzz, she travels around the world investigating the animals and plants in nature that cause problems for humans. She looks at difficulties presented by bears, elephants, leopards, monkeys, cougars, birds, rats, mice, and even poisonous plants and tall trees. Fuzz offers the bonus of getting to hear the author in her own voice. After listening to her narrate, I feel even more of a kinship with the quirky, smart, and always edifying Mary Roach. —Tricia F., Audible Editor

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What listeners say about Fuzz

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  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars

Footnotes.

I guess none of her other books had footnotes. Or the reader integrated them into the reading. This method of all them at the end was a little off putting.

24 people found this helpful

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The footnotes

Just like all of Mary Roaches books this is so well researched,interesting and funny. The only thing I didn't care for in this recording is that the footnotes were not read as they appear in the text as with other audio versions of her works.

21 people found this helpful

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Life is ,unfortunately, not so easy!

(As posted in Goodreads)
The beginning of the book was what I expected: animals that are an annoyance to humans and how we deal with them. She went through several species that are well known problems. And the question is raised – partly by Mary Roach and partly by the reader – what gives us the power to decide who gets to prevail in such cases.
Then she gets into trees and other plants and how our societies build poisons from them! This section really seems somewhat unrelated to the overall point, but oh well.
The ending section addresses pests and invasive species. And the same question does seem to arise: what gives us the rights to decide what animals are allowed and who can run the environment?
I like Mary Roach; I own several of her books, and both my husband and I get a kick out of her and appreciate the knowledge and science that she shares. The last section spends a great deal of time addressing humane and nonlethal approaches to controlling – or trying to help control our environment, and I appreciate the fact that she points out that the simplest way, the seemingly most humane way, is NOT always the way to go. Why are there so many different opinions on so many things? Because nothing's as simple as many would like it to be.

12 people found this helpful

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Mary is (almost) a female Bill Bryson!

Mary Roach is basically eight tenths of Bill Bryson in every regard as a writer and narrator. She's nearly as dryly witty, nearly as hilarious, and nearly as creative.

In this case, "nearly" is perfectly admirable.

It's like saying a person is nearly as good a boxer as Mike Tyson was at his pinnacle of success.

There is no other Bill Bryson, but for the time being, and if you've burned through all of Bryson's books, you should definitely check this one out. You won't be disappointed at all.

10 people found this helpful

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Fuzz is most entertaining

Loved this book! Not only humorous but educational as well! Love the authors sense of humor! Definitely will recommend this read!

10 people found this helpful

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boring

I don't know but I was just bored. I tried to like it but it just wasn't there for me.

7 people found this helpful

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Just when it’s needed

Mary Roach knows just when to lighten the mood on subjects that might otherwise bring me to tears. I wasn’t sure I’d make it through a book that I knew would involve animals dying, but she pulled it off.

6 people found this helpful

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Clever, witty, must read.

The delivery of jokes and jabs is impressive. The subject matter could have easily been dry and unappealing but this was such an enjoyable listen. Learned a lot, and was ultimately sad it ended so soon.

4 people found this helpful

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Another excellent Mary Roach book!

Ms. Roach covers the topic of how to interact with wildlife from a legal perspective very thoroughly; and I mean thoroughly. Each new chapter found her in some other corner of the world talking to people in depth and I found myself impressed with the detail of her research. Despite the detail, what could be a pedantic textbook is instead a delightful look at how we interact with animals in our domain and the complicated feelings it provokes. Very enjoyable!

4 people found this helpful

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If you haven’t read or listened to Mary Roach you should

Great book, Roach always seems to pull you into the scene like you’re in the middle of whatever weird side of society you didn’t know existed.

2 people found this helpful