BOOKS: The Aye-Aye and I
From ANIMAL PEOPLE, November 1994:
The Aye-Aye and I, by Gerald Durrell. Touchstone Books (1230 Avenue of
the Americas, New York, NY 10020), 1992; first Touchstone edition 1994. 175
pages. $11.00 paperback.
My favorite gift on my eighth birthday was a copy of Gerald Durrell’s first book,
My Family And Other Animals, about finding his calling as a naturalist while growing up on
the Greek island of Corfu during the 1920s. I read and reread it to tatters. Thus I declared dibs
on reviewing The Aye-Aye and I––and was hugely disappointed, as well as relieved that I may
have missed little by missing 21 of the subsequent 22 Durrell titles. Once known chiefly as
younger brother of the novelist Lawrence Durrell, Gerald has now sold far more books than
Lawrence ever did, as well as becoming legendary for his television specials and species con-
servation work via the Jersey Wildlife Preservation Trust. This has apparently convinced him
that his galloping trots are more fascinating tthan the lemurs of Madagascar, his nominal
topic this time in a tediously whimsical tome that might have made a good newspaper feature.
On October 9, as this review was readied for print, we received word that a rare
Mauritius kestrel had swooped into a reintroduction site for the equally rare Mauritius pink
pigeon on Ile Aux Aigrettes, to kill one of the newly hatched young. Durrell has saved both
species from extinction––the kestrel after just four birds remained. There are now about 250
of each. This incident may inspire yet another Durrell book. One hopes he’ll remember to tell
the story of the species recoveries between recording his trips to the outhouse.