Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Water For Elephants, by Sara Gruen

I am in the middle of this great memoir-like story about depression-era circuses across the United States. The main character is narrating the part of the traveling veterinarian who maintains the animals for better or for worse. They include a foundering white horse Silver Star, agile monkeys, well-fed tigers and Rosie, who has just joined the Benzini brothers circus train in Joliet, Illinois, she is over 5 tons, is 58 years old, and doing pretty well for her age. She has many pachyderm talents, including bathing and carrying lot's of water from place to place, which her trainer and vet are mainly responsible for now. She has Uncle Al in a tizzy, though, since he now realizes the care may be more than it's worth having an elephant in the circus. Previous trainers didn't want her and almost gave her away. Sadly, but not surprisingly, this is turning out to be the circus from hell for the trainers and crew, and the land of the misfit animals to the rest of us. Sara Gruen is the author of many books on animal husbandry including, Riding Lessons and Ape House.