Michelet is writing in that sweet spot of natural history, before Darwin’s ideas had taken hold but after Lamarcke. Even better, the book is thick with appeals to eurocentric noblesse oblige. What this means is that once you’re free to set aside considerations of outdated fact and morality, once everything is cut loose, you can enjoy the book as you would a work of fiction. And say what you will about Michelet (or read Wilson on him, it’s great) it’s impossible to find fault with his style. Michelet also has the always-funny habit of mentioning some detail (“oh, this is the beach where my carriage vanished in quicksand”) but then demurring, saying something to the effect of “now is not the time for that.” Anyhow, very beachy, this book. And beach-sized, to boot.
Sarah Gerard has decreed that today, and probably until the 4th, we will only be selling books about the beach. Let’s list those books, just so there is no confusion as to who is at fault when you come to our cash register and we just stare at you and your existential Czech novel about llamas with bare-faced contempt before turning our backs with forearms crossed over our chests in the ancient bookmonger ritual of banishment.
First up: Paul Virilio’s Bunker Archaeology. This book is a delightful romp across the strands and marshlands of the shores along the English Channel. Oh, and monolithic structures of engineered death, obsolete as soon as they were built; there are some of those in there, too.