The Evolution Man: Or, How I Ate My Father - Roy Lewis

Robyn had heard an interview on the radio with a librarian's picks for funny books to fight Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), and this was one of them. I came across it while browsing the Grant County Library and decided to give it a go. It is indeed quite funny, and also a quick read (I finished it in a day).

It's a novel about a Pleistocene family with a father who's militant about advancing the species. Along the way they discover fire, improve hunting tools, take a few stabs at domestication, and invent cooking. What makes the book funny, though, is their conversations about evolutionary struggles using modern-day language; that, and the fact that all these big steps in technology are occurring within one generation—within one family, in fact.

The father is constantly fretting about how far along they've come. He scolds his daughters for letting the young children crawl on all fours: "When will you realize that at two they should be toddlers? I tell you we must train out this instinctual tendency to revert to quadrupedal locomotion." It's particularly entertaining to hear the father going on about how their poor language skills leads to a "restricted power of abstraction." And then there's Uncle Vanya, who thinks the father is going against nature and plans to head back to the trees.

It's a short, entertaining book that may not teach you much about the Pleistocene era but will certainly give you a few good laughs. It's also of note that it was originally published in 1960, but it hasn't lost its humor over time.

Fed to jonathan's brain | June 14, 2005 | Comments (0)


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