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Animal Husbandry [Anglais] [Broché]

Laura Zigman

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"I should just marry this one.  She's definitely a wife," Eddie said matter-of-factly, glass of Scotch in hand.  He paced back and forth across the living-room floor in front of me the way he always did when he was contemplating the acquisition--or disposal--of a wife:

Step step step turn.

Step step step turn.

Step step step turn.

Not looking up from my copy of The Social Life of Monkeys and Apes (Zuckerman, second edition), I feigned indifference.  This was not the first time that Eddie had come home from a party and announced that he had met his wife, only to announce two weeks later, without a trace of irony, that he had met another.  I'd recorded it all in his notebook:

Case wives: #1-23.

Ages: 22-34.

Preliminary diagnosis of Subject E: satyriasis.

But despite the way of all his previous case wives' flesh and the fact that the chapter on baboons I was reading was a real page-turner, the familiar twinge of curiosity overtook me and I remembered the new purpose of my living arrangement with Eddie:


Inserting a bookmark in mid-chapter, I approached the cage and threw Eddie a banana:

"So . .  ." I said leadingly.

But Eddie didn't seem to hear me, lost as he was in the stream-of-consciousness comparative-shopping thought processes I now knew by heart:

Step step step great body nice legs good breeding turn.
Step step step but she's a blond ectomorph and I prefer brunette mesomorphs turn.
Step step step she's smart but not smart enough which could be a problem since she has to be smart enough to "get" me which could be difficult as I'm very complex turn.
Step step step what did I do with my cigarettes?  Stop.

He frisked himself, and finding a near-empty soft pack of Camel Ultra Lights in the torn breast pocket of his oxford cloth shirt, he shook out a wrinkled cigarette and lit it, then continued his slow, pensive three-step.

Now, where was I?  Oh, yes, the question of hair color and whether or not she'll be able to keep up with me intellectually.

I shifted uneasily on the couch. This excessive pacing and interior monologue was a radical departure from Eddie's usual post-cocktail-party, prenuptial ebullience.  If I was going to make the most of his willing--if unwitting--participation in my research, I realized I was going to have to extract the reasons out of him.  And while my objective, echoing method of questioning ("It sounds like you're angry that she's an ectomorph.") usually achieved maximum results, this time, because memories of Ray and the wanton polygamy of the male stump-tailed macaque I had just read about had made me mad, I said:

"So are you old enough to be her father, or is she at least out of college this time?"

Raising an eyebrow, Eddie acknowledged my reference to his weakness for nubile wives, a weakness that had inspired me, some months back, when I still thought it--and everything else about Eddie's womanizing--was hilarious, to refer to him "affectionately" as Humbert Humbert.  But Eddie's finding a wife was serious business these days, and so neither of us was laughing.

"Okay, I'm sorry," I lied.  "What's she like?"

Inhaling and exhaling, sipping and pacing, Eddie, as always, considered the question carefully.  Hypervigilant in his efforts to capture the true essence of each new wife with precision and accuracy, and in as few words as possible, he said finally, in a tone that implied he had given the question a great deal more than ten seconds of thought:

"She's perfect."

"Perfect," I echoed.

"Well, almost perfect," Eddie clarified.

"Almost perfect," I echoed again.  I was stalling for time.  Almost perfect was not in the notebook.

"Six inches shy of perfect, to be exact.  You see," he said by way of explanation, "she's only five foot one."

The first serious wife contender to come along while I lived with Eddie was the wife he met in early February.

It was a Friday night when he came home and announced his news, parading in front of me in his lucky suit, more than slightly drunk.

"Speak," I slurred. I, of course, had been sitting on the what-will-become-of-me couch all night, sipping Jack Daniel's daintily from an oversized coffee mug.

He told me that he'd seen his wife at a cocktail party, that she was a cellist, and that she was very beautiful and very rich.  In fact, she was so beautiful and so rich, he said, that he'd found out he would have to get her permission to call her.

"Permission to call her?" I slurred again.

"She's had some unfortunate luck with men," Eddie purred, lighting a Camel and continuing to pace back and forth in front of me.  "Luck that I plan to change."

"Good thing you were wearing your lucky suit."

Eddie stared at me.  Obviously, at a time like this--post-hunt, prepursuit--he was not in the mood for humor. "So, what," I said, "you'll call her to ask her if you can call her?"

"No.  My friends who had the party will call her.  Then they'll tell me if I can proceed."

"Permission? How come we don't require permission to be called?" Joan asked when I called her later that night.  But before I had a chance to answer, Eddie hit my curtain a few times. He needed the phone.

An hour or so later he poked his hand through the curtain.

Opposable thumbs up.

Their first date would be one week thence, Eddie briefed me, the following Saturday night.  All weekend long he paced back and forth across the apartment, planning and refining his strategy for the date.

I watched him from my bed through the slit between the curtain and the wall and made notes:

Subject E's attempts to pursue "wife" have produced specific feelings of anxiety; convinced that a "perfect plan" for first formal encounter must be executed to produce desired effect in wife object.

Subject E grappling intensely with details of said plan (i. e.  activity, feeding venue, etc. ), as well as with issues of manipulation of wife object's feelings
vis-Ó-vis her perception of his plan of action.

Subject E displaying "deep thought" behavior patterns but has not verbally communicated to on-site observer.

Finally, on Sunday night, he filled me in on the details of his plan: because Catherine had lived her whole life in a rarefied environment and undoubtedly missed out on her childhood, he would take her to the circus and then to dinner someplace "common."

Such plotting.

Such planning.

Such psychological deconstruction and silent deliberation.

Bulls become eerily focused when they're formulating their plan of attack.

Eddie's date went off without a hitch.

Catherine loved the circus, and she loved the Greek diner he carefully picked out.  The following week he took her ice-skating in Central Park and to Rumpelmayer's afterward for hot chocolate and grilled cheese sandwiches.  It seemed his lost-childhood-theme-park strategy was working perfectly.

"Let's celebrate downstairs," he said to me when he'd returned from the date, his Hans Brinker cheeks aglow.

It was only three in the afternoon, and I had never been to Night Owls in daylight.  We sat down at the bar, and before we had even taken our coats off, our drinks arrived.

I looked at Eddie.  "What did you do?  Call ahead?"

Eddie took a sip of his Scotch before launching into his update.  "I thought you'd be interested to know that we haven't slept together yet."

No burying the lead this time.

I stopped in mid-sip.  "But you've been seeing her for two weeks.  Standard operating procedure for you is normally two hours."

"I know.  But this is different.  It's special," he said, his voice revoltingly full of reverence.


"You see," he explained, "sometimes, when a man meets someone special--a wife," he clarified, "it's better to wait.  To take things slow." He went on.  "You don't want to sleep with a wife on the first date."

I nodded for a few seconds, processing.  "But I thought that's what men wanted--to sleep with a woman as soon as possible so that they could fall in love as soon as possible."

Eddie shook his head dismissively.  Clearly, I wasn't getting it.

"So you didn't sleep with Rebecca on the first date?" I asked.

He looked past me to the windows that faced the street.  "No," he said.  "Though she would have."

I looked out at the street too.  The air was thick and gray, the way it gets before it snows.  "I slept with Ray on the first date," I said, almost to myself.  "Maybe that's why it didn't work."

Eddie turned and looked me in the eyes.  "No, Jane.  It didn't work because Ray's an idiot."

I stared at him.  In all the months I'd lived with him he'd never offered an opinion of Ray.  His words surprised me.  "You think?"

"He doesn't know what he wants yet.  He's too young."

Too young. Ray was thirty.  And Eddie was thirty-five. ... --Ce texte fait référence à l'édition Broché .

Revue de presse

"Girl meets boy, boy dumps girl ... Zigman siphons off the tears and the curses and by alchemy converts them into laughter."

"Clever, engaging...continually amusing."
The Washington Post

"Wit, wisdom, and a sure comic voice...this is great fun,a dog-eared hoot."
The Philadelphia Inquirer

--Ce texte fait référence à l'édition Broché .

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Commentaires client les plus utiles sur (beta) 3.4 étoiles sur 5  112 commentaires
20 internautes sur 20 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder at its best... 22 octobre 2001
Par Dianna Setterfield - Publié sur
Talk about a bitter woman! Jane Goodall has recently been dumped and wants to know why. She embarks on a mission to find out the reasoning behind her ex's strange behavior, and in doing so, finds some interesting parallels of the seducing, mating and moving-on habits between animals and men. Coming up with her own suggestion based on these ideals, Jane's Old-Cow-New-Cow theory is a sure-fire hit. Or is it?
Laura Zigman has written a totally fun and witty novel about one woman's heartbreak and the desperation she has in proving it wasn't all because of her. I laughed, I sympathized. Jane Goodall embodies a gamut of emotions that comes with being dumped -- and believe me, we get to sample them all! This novel is wonderfully written and contains fascinating insight into male behavior. Easy to read and quick to get through, Animal Husbandry makes you a believer in the Old-Cow-New-Cow theory, and just as easily makes you think again. Bravo, kudos, applause, applause. Can't wait to read Laura's next book. Oh, how I love to be entertained.
9 internautes sur 9 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
4.0 étoiles sur 5 Buy it and laugh without guilt. 9 avril 1998
Par - Publié sur
After reading the first chapter of this book on Amazon, I sent a link to 25 of my women friends, telling them that this was a must read. I didn't do this because I thought the book was Great Literature. I did it because I thought the book pretty well described the emotional disembowelment of being dumped and its messy aftermath. But in a funny way.
The controversial COW THEORY (see above reviews) really isnt the point of the book. The narrator says so at the bottom of page four and continuing on to page five. The COW THEORY is merely the result of the protagonist, Jane Goodall(Laura Zigman? me? Your Name Here?) trying to make some sense of being discarded like a stained JCrew buttondown.

Everyone who has been dumped secretly suspects, that s/he is rejected because of some inherent flaw that makes them instrinsically unloveable. The obsessive, sometimes absurd things we do to prove to ourselves otherwise can be either comic or tragic. This book opts for the comic approach.

And lets face it, cows are funny. And absurd. COW THEORY is funny and absurd. My friends and I enjoyed COW THEORY. (UsedCowLot is not available as a screenname on AOL, by the way). I thought that the more man-bashing elements of COW THEORY were mitigated by using the cow instead of, oh, let's say, the pig. PIG THEORY isn't nearly as funny, since that lends itself too neatly to the idea that all men are pigs.

The book has some structural flaws, but I hesitate to comment on them at length, since I don't think I could write any better. I say, buy the book, laugh without guilt and when your best guy buddy is crying on your shoulder about how his g/f dumped him, explain about the lure of the NEW BULL.
23 internautes sur 28 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
2.0 étoiles sur 5 Been there, done that. 6 mai 1998
Par - Publié sur
Oh please. Another bitter, boring, been dumped story. The "cleverness" of the prose sustained my interest for about twenty pages, after that, my annoyance was the only thing that kept going.
I've heard that men feel insulted by this book. I don't blame them. As a female, I'm apalled by how my gender is treated. The women in this book are whiny, self centered, self absorbed, and spend more time bashing the male sex, than actually trying to do something positive about their own lives.
After being dumped, Jane plops herself down on a ratty couch, drinks copiously, and complains to her friends about how badly she's been treated. Then, after reading a couple of books on psychology, evolution, anthropology, and agriculture, she comes up with this "new" theory: Men are biologically incapable of committing. Ho hum. I heard this new theory in Psychology 101. But apparently the magazines and the newspapers that exist in the world of the novel are gullible enough to find this theory brilliant. And speaking of gullible.... Jane, after dating a man for less than two months, gives up her great apartment to move in with him. Two months! Get a clue, lady.
Had "Animal Husbandry" at least been well written, I wouldn't have felt so cheated. But in chapter one, the character tells you what is going to happen in the book, and if you didn't catch it the first time, she repeats it throughout the chapters, and if after finishing the book, you still missed what happened, you can always go back in read the chapter titles, which tell you exactly what will occur in each chapter.
I'm tired of reading books, reading articles, seeing television shows about unhappy single city women. I am a single city woman, and I manage to at least find some happiness in my daily life. When I get dumped, I do manage to go on, and I do manage to believe that men are not slime. Furthermore, this theme/plot has been handled much better by "The Heidi Chronicles" (Wendy Wasserstein! ), "50% Off" (Karen Salmanson), and "Selling the Light of Heaven" (forgot author's name, but its a lovely book). Read one of those three books, but don't waste your time on "Animal Husbandry."
8 internautes sur 8 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 Before chick lit was cool, this book was better 31 janvier 2005
Par Sarah Hill - Publié sur
Walk into any bookstore, look for pastel titles with curly writing on them, and you've easily found all of the shallow chick lit titles that have flooded the market. These are mostly the unfortunate spawn of really great books like "Animal Husbandry" and, of course, "Bridget Jones's Diary."

Ignore the pastel sea and pick up "Animal Husbandry." Here you'll find a funny and sad story about a realistic woman--someone who has frizzy hair and reads the New Yorker, and who goes to pieces after the sort of breakup that happens to most people. This was brilliance on Zigman's part, and the book is a great story about how normal-ish things impact us deeply. Beneath the humor (which is great) is a very touching story that has more depth than most books.
6 internautes sur 6 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
4.0 étoiles sur 5 Makes you think 1 juillet 2001
Par Nicole L. Brant - Publié sur
I liked this book for several reasons. Like Laura Zigman's other novel, Dating Big Bird, I finished this in only a couple days. The main concept of this book is a woman gets her heart broken by a man, then comes to the concept of the "old cow, new cow" theory. This theory basically states that men can never stay with one woman for very long, they are always going to be on the prowel for a "new cow". Jane (the main character) spends most of her time and energy on this theory and gradually comes to understand that you just have to suck it up and move on. Very refreshing, somewhat cynical, but overall a good read.
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