Book Review: The Devil's Teeth

Thirty miles west of San Francisco, within the 415 area code and most pizza delivery radii, lie the Farallones, a cluster of rocky islands that just happen to be great white shark central. It is a nature preserve with very restricted access and a couple of biologists and interns. Journalist (Outside Magazine, Time) Susan Casey was obsessed with them and managed to get access legally, twice. She has written a wonderful, light and informative book that is excellent summer reading. It is the reverse of Jaws- the sharks are extremely dangerous but have names, personalities and habits. In fact everything is dangerous- the water is rough, the islands harsh, even the gulls are vicious and hard hats are required to resist attacks. The biologists, Scot and Peter see so much life, and so much death- says Peter: "I hate the word anthropomorphism. It should be the other way around. Not how the animals are like us, but how humans are like animals" .

the Farallones

Susan Casey writes with a breezy, funny style that will be familiar to Outside Magazine readers. An example is the simile of the summer- "Because [shark] teeth are embedded in cartilage rather than bone, they fall out with regularity. That's what the [multiple] extra rows are for. WHen a shark loses a tooth, the one behind it simply rotates forward like a bag of chips in a vending machine"


dinner time

The last chapters are less satisfactory, when she charters a boat to stretch the regulations and get extra time at the islands. She gets the boat, herself and the biologists in trouble and sets up an unsatisfactory ending. However, until that point, it is the best light read so far this summer, and an amazing story about a place so close yet so wild. ::The Devil's Teeth: A True Story of Obsession and Survival Among America's Great White Sharks available at ::Amazon