Wednesday, February 07, 2024

Q&A with Chris Cander

From my Q&A with Chris Cander, author of The Young of Other Animals: A Novel:
How much work does your title do to take readers into the story?

I came across the phrase “The young of other animals” in the Oxford English Dictionary, Second Edition, Volume II as the I.1.b. obsolete definition of “bird.” It quoted John de Trevisa’s translation of Bartholomew de Glanville's De Proprietatibus Rerum c. 1495: “All fysshe…fede and kepe theyr byrdes.” That speakers of Middle English would refer to fish offspring as birds was interesting, but more compelling to me was the phrase itself, without the context provided by the quotation. It demanded to be lifted out and examined. I felt a shimmer of electricity at how those five simple words so forcefully conveyed a sense of danger or vulnerability: in the natural world, the young within a species are generally protected and provided for, while the young of other animals are likely prey.

Then I thought about the myriad relationships that could form between the implied elder of one kind of animal and the young of another. It could be predatory, certainly, but could also be symbiotic or protective or possessive. What kind of challenges might force an unexpected dynamic between unrelated animals? What makes certain animals—including humans—choose protection over predation, and how does that decision impact those involved? Those are precisely the concerns at the heart of this novel, and the dynamic...[read on]
Visit Chris Cander's website.

My Book, The Movie: The Weight of a Piano.

The Page 69 Test: The Young of Other Animals.

My Book, The Movie: The Young of Other Animals.

Q&A with Chris Cander.

--Marshal Zeringue