Feb 24, 2011

THE TIGER by John Vailllant

taken from the New York Times by EDWARD LEWINE

The large and malevolent tiger at the center of this nonfiction hunting tale bears a striking resemblance to its fictional seafaring predecessors: the white whale and the movie-star shark (both of which, by the way, are said to have been inspired by real creatures).

The structure of John Vaillant’s book echoes that of “Moby-Dick,” alternating a gripping chase narrative with dense explanations of the culture and ecology surrounding that chase. “Jaws” fans will recognize the dramatic strategy of keeping the beast offstage as much as possible to allow terror to fill in the blanks, as well as a certain lurid detail at the book’s end, which I won’t reveal.

What makes “The Tiger” a grand addition to the animal-­pursuit subgenre is the sensitive way in which Vaillant, a journalist and the author of a previous book, “The Golden Spruce,” that’s in the same murder-in-nature mode, evokes his cat. Few writers have taken such pains to understand their monsters, and few depict them in such arresting prose. READ MORE....

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