I came across this book on NPR Books where they have an exclusive first read feature for it. This excerpt of the story was eerily captivating. I didn’t want to like it and I wanted to stop reading but at the end of the excerpt, I wanted to know more. The excerpt had an ominous tone to it and I wanted to know what would happen. The next day, I happened to see the book in Barnes & Noble. I was unable to leave without first knowing how the story ends so I sat and read.
It was unsettling. It’s a dark tale about a couple who so desperately want kids that they are willing to try anything. Since they are wealthy, they are able to try all possible fertility procedures but all prove unsuccessful.
After receiving a tip from an acquaintance, the Twisdens dash off to Slovenia and partake of Dr. Kis’ experiment, which is guaranteed to get them pregnant. Changes begin to take place almost immediately, but the experiment’s purpose was met and they produced beautiful twins. Ten years later, their life has changed drastically. The Twisdens have become very animalistic and predatory. In turn, the twins become convinced that their parents will kill them so they run away and seek refuge in a teacher. Unfortunately, their parents are able to find them wherever they go and escaping them seems to be impossible.
Though I was disturbed as I read (I kept thinking that it is possible that such a thing could happen), I enjoyed the story immensely. The gory descriptions of the Twisdens will stick in your mind and haunt you as you read. Breed is a great horror story. I was terrified the entire time that I read it and even now I have mental images of Alex Twisden chasing after his kids, slobbering as his taste buds ignite at the scent of them but trying to regain some control of himself at the same time.
One day, as I was going through the many newsletters on the book industry in my inbox, I happened upon a Publisher’s Weekly newsletter that mentioned the title, Why Is the Penis Shaped Like That. I thought that whoever crafted the newsletter placed that title in it by mistake but my curiosity was aroused and I just had to click on the link to find out more (see below for a link to the PW interview).
It turns out that the provocative title is for a book by Jesse Bering, an evolutionary psychologist and columnist for Scientific American and Slate magazines. Bering had decided to compile the essays he wrote for the magazines into a book and title it Why Is the Penis Shaped Like That?… And Other Reflections on Being Human.
You have to admit that it is a very eye-catching title. So eye-catching in fact that whenever I read it on the train, I am thrown inquiring looks by my fellow travelers. I remember on one occasion when the man sitting next to me glanced at my book, double-glanced, stared fixedly at the cover, and then looked away in disgust. I guess he thought I was reading a racy novel (a la Fifty Shades of Grey) and failed to read the second part of the title.
Another time while on the train, the guy sitting beside me glanced up from his book, briefly, to check out what I was reading (I had just whipped out my book with a flourish). He kept looking from the cover to my face over and over again as if shocked and seemed to want to make a comment but unfortunately, his stop arrived before his nerves could take hold.
Despite these glances, I refused to seek an alternative cover for my book or read it on an electronic device. I take pride in what I read and I like to show off.
Though the initial title gives way for many possibilities to develop of what might be discussed in the book, people should pay more attention to the secondary title. Yes, taboo subjects are touched on and Bering does reveal why the penis is long with the male’s precious “family jewels” hanging, unprotected, outside the body cavity, but Bering also delves into topics that provoke the mind to thoughts on evolution and just how much human beings are influenced by their ancestors…..and apes.
Now Houghton Mifflin Harcourt is recalling all print copies of Imagine. Smh. This news is disappointing. I enjoyed reading Imagine and trusted what was stated. Now I wonder how much of the book’s content was fabricated. Was it just the Bob Dylan quotes?
The article also states that Lehrer has resigned from The New Yorker. How unfortunate. I was looking forward to reading his articles there. Obviously, the book’s topic had too much influence on him. Maybe he should of used less imagination when writing Imagine.
Step into the classroom with Professor Foster and learn to read between the lines of the next story, play, or poem you pick up.
I wish I had this book while an undergrad. I should have thought to buy it sooner. Usually I would see it in the store but would bypass it because I thought it would be boring. Obviously, it’s a professor who wrote it and professors are usually boring when they discuss literature and whatnot, especially when they write about it, so this book would also be boring, I reasoned. I was so wrong.
I took a few literature classes by professors who were so excited about the books they discussed, I couldn’t help getting caught up in their excitement and wanting to read the text as they do. They made it seem fun – intellectual fun. So I went out and bought How to Read Literature Like a Professor by Thomas C. Foster and threw it on my bedroom floor and left it there for a couple months.
One day, I stumbled on it as I was rushing into my room. I then decided to read it. Ha! I thought. This dude is freaking hilarious. Books like this should always be funny or a bit silly at least. It’s the best way to learn something that has the potential to bore a student to death.