How Do You Make Death Appealing? [Review: ‘The Anatomical Venus’]

Here is a fun fact: I used to work at haunted houses. This stems not necessarily from my desire to scare other people (though that is fun), but because, like all proto-goths and many Neoromantics, I have a fondness for the macabre. There’s something breathtaking in death (literally, ha ha ha), and there’s been a long human tradition extending even beyond the black and white film female victims in Hammer Horror films to trying to find something beautiful about death. When I first saw “The Anatomical Venus” on the shelves in my store, I got really excited because it combined two things that I enjoy–that is, wax models of dead people with exposed organs and books talking about the history of science–and I asked for it for my birthday. Lo and behold, here it is, featuring one of the pretty, flayed Venuses on its cover.

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Collecting Spores, Molds, and Fungus: Siegel and Schwarz’s ‘Mushrooms of the Redwood Coast’

This is a weird fact about me: when I go hiking (which isn’t something I necessarily love when it’s over 90 degrees Fahrenheit outside), I’m usually watching the ground for mushrooms. I like them and I like the way they look, and that’s why I’m glad I’m reviewing Noah Siegel and Christian Schwarz’s book, “Mushrooms of the Redwood Coast: A Comprehensive Guide to the Fungi of Coastal Northern California.”

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“The Astronaut Wives Club”: Like Chess Club, But Better

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Apart from when astronauts post on Twitter and/or Instagram, we Earthlings rarely (if ever) hear about their private lives, including those of their families. Scott Kelly, who spent a year in space, is (I think) the most recent astronaut to grace the cover of a Time-Life publication. However, as Lily Koppel tells us in “The Astronaut Wives Club: A True Story,” the privacy astronauts currently have was not always the case.

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Teddy Roosevelt: Apparently Super Into Taxidermy (Darrin Lunde’s “The Naturalist”)

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Before reading this book, I had no idea that Teddy Roosevelt, sometimes loved, often times hated POTUS, really liked to save the remains of the animals he hunted.

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Preparing to meet our extraterrestrial neighbors.

My article on NASA’s new telescopes is finally out at The Odyssey (a few days later than I would have hoped, but still, out). If you like space, the void, and the potential of meeting other intelligent lifeforms, you should consider sharing this piece.