Book Report: Evolution redux

Local writer Martin Malloy, author of of Evolution in a Nutshell, returns with a second edition of his biology-based study into human origins.

“The second edition has 150 photos and every paragraph is 100 words or less,” says Malloy in an email. “I added a glossary, index and geologic time chart. I did not want a table of contents because of the way the information was organized.”

There’s a sense of humor apparent in Malloy’s book from the start. A photo of Einstein is captioned, “Intelligent man. E = MC2”; a chimpanzee is captioned, “Intelligent chimp. 1 + 1 bananas = 2 bananas.”

What Evolution does not include is a table on contents, which gives the book conversational tone, ambling easily from one topic to the next. In the chapter on the origin of funguses we learn that “Ringworm that causes Athlete’s foot and mushrooms are two familiar funguses and distant human relatives.” In the chapter on natural selection we learn that “the endearing panda is a bear that natural selection ‘rigged’ with ‘contraptions’ to help it survive.”

Says Malloy, “Relative to recorded history, it has been only a short time that people could talk about evolution without fearing retribution. Evolution has been suppressed by religion; the media gives it little attention and there is no money in evolution. Unfortunately, people have been given superstitious answers to scientific phenomena and advised to solve their manifold problems, including warfare, through the writings of ancient scribes.”

Evolution, he says, “is a book for contemplative people, those who are not content with simple answers to complex problems. It is for people who question the negative aspects of human existence, such as violence, and wonder why it is tempered with great compassion, generosity and forgiveness.” While Evolution is intended as an introduction for interested beginners, even with Malloy’s wit and the additional images, it can be slow-going.

A primer with the author might help. Malloy offers a digital photo book-talk on Sunday, Sept. 25, 3 p.m. at Blue Ridge Books in Waynesville.

Read the full review of the first edition of Evolution in a Nutshell here.

About Alli Marshall
Alli Marshall is the arts section editor at Mountain Xpress. She's lived in Asheville for more than 20 years and loves live music, visual art, fiction and friendly dogs. Alli is the winner of the 2016 Thomas Wolfe Fiction Prize and the author of the novel "How to Talk to Rockstars," published by Logosophia Books. Follow me @alli_marshall

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