Sy Montgomery, author of numerous books, most recently, “How to Be A Good Creature: A Memoir in Thirteen Animals”

Sy Montgomery—the author of numerous acclaimed books about animals, including bestsellers “The Good Good Pig: The Extraordinary Life of Christopher Hogwood” and “The Soul of an Octopus: A Surprising Exploration Into the Wonder of Consciousness”—discusses the inspiration for her new book, a departure from the others, in that it’s an autobiography, though with a suitably Sy twist: “How to Be A Good Creature: A Memoir in Thirteen Animals.” As the title suggests, this book tells Montgomery’s life story by way of recounting the animals that were important to her along the way, personally and professionally. That involved a more complex story line  than this description, or Montgomery’s past books would presage: She recalls (in both the book and this interview) how, after her pig Chris died at 14, followed not long thereafter by the passing of  her 16-year-old border collie, Tess, she descended into a dark depression, and for a time, was haunted by suicidal thoughts. She’s very frank in acknowledging how close she came to acting on those thoughts, and would’ve were it not for two commitments she had made, including writing “The Good Good Pig” (which she described as a wrenching experience). Tied to another commitment to write a children’s book, she embarked on an expedition to Papua New Guinea, where after some grueling hiking, she saw two mating tree kangaroos—a transcendent experience that lifted her out of that dark period. Montgomery also addresses her childhood, her first dog, Molly, the growing estrangement with her parents (her mother, in particular), the profound experiences she had while researching and writing “The Soul of an Octopus”—which became a surprise bestseller, and a National Book Award nominee—and more, including responding to some keen questions and comments from listeners. (http://symontgomery.com, https://www.facebook.com/sy.montgomery.3)

 

ALSO: I spoke with Dina Athanassie, outreach & events manager at Animal Coalition of Tampa, about its then-forthcoming 18th Annual Stride for Strays, slated to take place Oct. 7 at Al Lopez Park in Tampa.      (http://actampa.org/event/strideforstrays/https://www.facebook.com/actampa/)

COMEDY CORNER: Harland Williams’   “Animals And Corn”  (portion) (http://www.harlandwilliams.com)

MUSIC: Rebekah Pulley’s “Talking Animals Theme,” instrumentals

NAME THAT ANIMAL TUNE: Dave Matthews Band’s “Ants Marching”

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About the author
Duncan Strauss is the producer-host of “Talking Animals,” which he launched at KUCI in California in 2003, combining his passions for animals, radio, journalism, music and comedy. The show has aired since late 2005 on Tampa’s WMNF. Strauss lives in Jupiter Farms, FL with his family, including four cats, two horses and one dog. He spends each day talking to those animals, and maintains they talk right back to him, an as yet unverified claim.

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