Thursday, October 23, 2014

G464 Book Review of Man v. Nature by Diane Cook

General Information:

Name of Book: Man V Nature

ISBN: 978-0-06-233310-0

Publisher: Harper Collins

Year it was published: 2014


A refreshingly imaginative, daring debut collection of stories which illuminates with audacious wit the complexity of human behavior, as seen through the lens of the natural world

Told with perfect rhythm and unyielding brutality, these stories expose unsuspecting men and women to the realities of nature, the primal instincts of man, and the dark humor and heartbreak of our struggle to not only thrive, but survive. In “Girl on Girl,” a high school freshman goes to disturbing lengths to help an old friend. An insatiable temptress pursues the one man she can’t have in “Meteorologist Dave Santana.” And in the title story, a long fraught friendship comes undone when three buddies get impossibly lost on a lake it is impossible to get lost on. In Diane Cook’s perilous worlds, the quotidian surface conceals an unexpected surreality that illuminates different facets of our curious, troubling, and bewildering behavior.

Other stories explore situations pulled directly from the wild, imposing on human lives the danger, tension, and precariousness of the natural world: a pack of not-needed boys take refuge in a murky forest and compete against each other for their next meal; an alpha male is pursued through city streets by murderous rivals and desirous women; helpless newborns are snatched by a man who stalks them from their suburban yards. Through these characters Cook asks: What is at the root of our most heartless, selfish impulses? Why are people drawn together in such messy, complicated, needful ways? When the unexpected intrudes upon the routine, what do we discover about ourselves?

As entertaining as it is dangerous, this accomplished collection explores the boundary between the wild and the civilized, where nature acts as a catalyst for human drama and lays bare our vulnerabilities, fears, and desires.
Overall theme:

I'm not sure what the overall connection was, except that relationships between people are messy and can be creepy and uncertain. For me personally it seemed like a female version of science fiction. In someways too, there is comparison between humans and the animal world.

Author: Diane Cook

About the Author:
(From TLC)

Add to Goodreads badge
 Purchase Links

Diane CookAbout Diane Cook

Diane Cook’s fiction has been published in Harper’s MagazineGrantaTin House,ZoetropeOne StoryGuernica, and elsewhere. Her nonfiction has appeared in the New York Times Magazine and on This American Life, where she worked as a radio producer for six years. She earned an MFA from Columbia University, where she was a Teaching Fellow. She lives in Oakland, California.
Follow Diane on Twitter.

1. Moving On

Short Summary:

In first person narrative, a woman gets widowed and has to move inside a special house where she has to improve herself before someone can choose her. While she does that, she makes friends with other widows and even crushes a little on a man on a different side.

2. The Way the End of Days Should Be

Short Summary:

In first person narrative, a wealthy man attempts to survive on his own, eventually taking on someone who becomes a close friend as well as guard, never realizing the betrayal that might be lurking within the chosen man's soul.

3. Somebody's Baby

Short Summary:

A young woman, Linda gives birth to a daughter that gets kidnapped. She later on learns that hte man has stolen children from other women and decides to do something about it.

4. Girl on Girl

Short Summary:

In first person narrative, a young teenager recalls the story of how she spots her former friend Marni trying to get thin by using violence. Marni turns on her and then blackmails her to continue the treatment.

5. Man V. Nature

Short Summary:

Three best friends by names of Phil, Dan and Ross get trapped either on the sea or on the lake with little to no hope of rescue where things about Phil become revealed.

6. Marrying Up

Short Summary:

In first person narrative, a woman begins to describe her two marriages in apocalyptic times, eventually settling down on the third marriage with a man whose baby she carries and gives birth to, learning valuable lessons along the way.

7. It's Coming

Short Summary:

This is told in second person narrative, often using "we", about a group of executives trying to escape something that's trying to kill them, and learning about love along the way.

8. Meteorologist Dave Santana

Short Summary:

Janet has a huge obsession with a man named Dave Santana who happens to be a meteorologist, and who also happens to be her neighbor. Throughout their "relationship", Janet learns some unpleasant things about him and must make a decision as to what to do.

9. Flotsam

Short Summary:

A young woman named Lydia begins to discover mysterious baby clothes while doing laundry and must then decide what to do with the clothes.

10. A Wanted Man

Short Summary:

"Our Man" is a man who seeks soul-mate only to be thwarted by both women and his reputation for producing great children.

11. The Mast Year

Short Summary:

Jane has recently went through good luck in terms of promotion and an engagement with a man when mysterious people began to show up and try to take advantage of her; she begins to learn some very difficult lessons.

12. The Not-Needed Forest

Short Summary:

A group of boys are destined to die through the chute when a miracle occurs and they find a forest where they stay happy and content until winter time, then they need to make some very difficult decisions about what to do. Told in first person narrative.

Personal Opinion:

I enjoyed reading these stories a great deal: they're a pleasant mixture of science fiction/fantasy but at the same time they felt modern and very accessible. Personally I loved all the stories, although the ones that really stood out are Moving On, A Wanted Man, The Mast Year and The Not-Needed Forest. What is also unique for this particular collection is that the stories feel complete instead of something that should be continued, or the reader can continue the storyline in their minds.

This is for TLC Book Tour

Diane’s Tour Stops

Wednesday, October 15th: Book Hooked Blog
Thursday, October 16th: The Book Binder’s Daughter
Monday, October 20th: The Well-Read Redhead
Tuesday, October 21st: BoundbyWords
Wednesday, October 22nd: A Lovely Bookshelf on the Wall
Thursday, October 23rd: Svetlana’s Reads and Views
Tuesday, October 28th: No More Grumpy Bookseller
Wednesday, October 29th: Shelf Notes
Thursday, October 30th: Luxury Reading
Monday, November 3rd: Patricia’s Wisdom
Tuesday, November 4th: Bibliosue
Wednesday, November 5th: Buried in Print
Thursday, November 6th: Inner Workings of the Female Mind
Friday, November 7th: guiltless reading
Monday, November 10th: A Bookish Way of Life
Tuesday, November 11th: missris
5 out of 5
(0: Stay away unless a masochist 1: Good for insomnia 2: Horrible but readable; 3: Readable and quickly forgettable, 4: Good, enjoyable 5: Buy it, keep it and never let it go.)


  1. This sounds like an excellent collection of stories! I'm glad you enjoyed it.

    Thanks for being a part of the tour.

  2. The last story is going to stay with me for a long time too: sign of a good book, for sure!


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...