Further Praise for One with the Tiger
“A powerfully written attention-grabber.” —Kirkus
"What is it that we see when we look into the eyes of something wild? Where some find a sense of deep connection, others see hostility or, perhaps even worse, thoughtless indifference. It is these wildly differing interpretations of animal encounters that essayist Church (The Day after The Day After, 2010) explores in his new collection. Church begins with the story of David Villalobos, a young man who jumped into a tiger pen at the Bronx Zoo, saying only that he wanted to be “at one with the tiger.” Though understanding Villalobos’ true motivation ultimately eludes Church, the story obsesses him and leads into larger questions of how we relate to wildness, both in animals and within ourselves. With a style that is both friendly and penetrating, Church takes his exploration of animal nature beyond animal encounters; his essays weave together everything from Mike Tyson to 1970s pop culture. At his best, Church combines the thoughtfulness of Rebecca Solnit with the sharpness of Chuck Klosterman, producing a collection of essays that is as insightful as it is entertaining." —Booklist
The idea of being attacked by wild animals has long been an area for exploration in popular culture. Church (Ultrasonic; The Guinness Book of Me) begins his latest book by introducing the story of David Villalobos, who in 2012 jumped into a Siberian tiger enclosure at the Bronx Zoo. Villalobos later called the event a "spiritual thing." There is a powerful experience that many humans seek out in placing themselves in situations that get them closer to apex predators. Documentary filmmaker Werner Herzog calls it the "gaze at moral indifference," in which the animal is merely one choice away from "making you into a meal." The author examines his own animal instincts and curiosity, purposely placing himself in bear country and discussing circumstances in which he has become "animal like" in his response to perceived physical threats. Church does well in connecting the human fascination with apex predator behavior and its potential relation to our own animal instincts. A thought-provoking argument is made as to why people seek contact with these creatures. VERDICT Those with a general interest in this topic would benefit the most from reading this captivating study.—Gary Medina, El Camino Coll., Torrance, CA, for Library Journal
“Church has written a funny, smart, and terrifying book that explores the invisible boundaries between human and animal. This sensitive and thoughtful writer allows the reader to hear the siren call of the wild and step deep into the existential anxiety of what it means to be human.” —Jennifer Percy, author of Demon Camp
“From the iron of a zoo cage’s bars to the expanse of our nation’s national parks, One With the Tiger examines the spaces in which humans contain animals, and how those acts of containment often fail. Church is a classically essayistic observer—curious, haunted, self-deprecating—and it’s through this lens that we’re confronted with stories of infamous animal attacks, pop culture icons, and the author’s own longing to inch forward as a bear approaches. In this marvelous collection, Church seems to write his consciousness directly onto the page, and in it we can see an entire civilization’s clumsy, sometimes desperate, attempts to understand our relationship to the wild.” —Kristen Radtke, author of Imagine Wanting Only This
“One With the Tiger explores the deep human need to participate in an atavistic ecstasy; to be, as Church puts it “absorbed but not destroyed.” Church’s approach is not clinical, moralizing, or gee-whiz superficial; it is, to our benefit, essayistic. By circling rather than simplifying, he illuminates the taboo, ever-shifting boundaries between man and animal. Church is the rare author who knows what’s interesting— which is to say, uncomfortable—about his chosen subject.” —Kerry Howley, author of Thrown.
“One with the Tiger is a meditation on animality and the space between suburbs and savanna, citizenship and savagery. Church is as close to the teeth of the beast as he is to escape. This is his love letter to animal magnetism, primal fear, and the wilderness of human imagination. The genius of this book is how it questions who is in captivity: the tiger in its cage or you.” – Benjamin Busch, author of Dust to Dust
"In One with the Tiger, Steven Church stalks the entire genre of nature writing, rips it down to the raw bone, then reassembles the parts into something totally new and utterly compelling.
- Justin Hocking, author of The Great Floodgates of the Wonderworld
Through scenes devastating, inspiring, and at times, difficult to watch (read), we cannot turn away as Church imagines that space between the leap and the landing, human and animal, villain and victim. When there are no explanations, Church finds satisfaction in narrative speculation, yet he also proves that when reality is too much to bear, we’ll fight to escape the cage of an old story and scramble like hell to get back over the ledge.”
—Jill Talbot, author of The Way We Weren’t: A Memoir and editor of Metawritings: Toward a Theory of Nonfiction
“The further Church leads us through the explorations in One with the Tiger, the richer they become. His own excitement is contagious and you soon find yourself as obsessed as the author himself. Truly intoxicating." —Taylor Goldsmith, lead singer/songwriter of Dawes
Praise for Steven Church's One with the tiger released Nov. 15, 2016
"Muscular, vulnerable, twitchy, and relentlessly curious, Steven Church’s awesome One with the Tiger stalks some of our most absurd, sometimes-violent, and uncontainable compulsions for communion and self-destruction, and finds, lurking within them, such a fragile, funny, and heartbreaking humanity that it’s all we can do as readers to leap and leap into the exhilarating zoo pit of this book." - Matthew Gavin Frank, author of Preparing the Ghost and The Mad Feast.
You can read a selection from, One with the Tiger here, where Steven talks about Mike Tyson, severed ears, and intimacy; published originally in the magazine, Creative Nonfiction and reprinted in Salon.com.