Creaturely and Other Essays

Devin Johnston

In compact and vivid prose, Devin Johnston’s Creaturely makes forays across the border between humans and animals, seeking out intersections between culture and nature. These eight essays describe encounters with creatures common to our city parks and empty lots: dogs, crows, starlings, squirrels, mice, and owls. In each case, Johnston explores the sensory experience of his subject; with each patient observation, he edges closer to an alien consciousness.

  • “Creaturely, like its subject, eludes definition. It's a book of exquisite essays – or are they prose poems – that tesselate into something larger: a meditation, perhaps, or a vision. Johnston's subject is at once the absolute otherness of the creatures with whom we share the world's everyday spaces – dogs, owls, mice, squirrels, crows – and the worth of our attempts to come to know them. As he puts it, these are creatures that "alight in the vicinity of meaning and move on." Modest, calm, and beautiful in its movements of thought as much as in its turn of phrase, this is an exceptional book and one I felt lucky to have read.” — Robert Macfarlane