Tuesday, December 09, 2003

The Book of Worms.

It’s a strange feeling to open the door on a rainy Monday afternoon, when you are still in your pajamas for reasons you cannot explain, and face a UPS man who holds in his hands a package containing the book you just spent three years writing.

And when you open that package and find a picture of one of your very own earthworms on the cover, it gets even stranger.

This particular worm doesn’t have a name or a gender. It lacks hearing and sight. While I can’t prove it, I do assume that it has no memory of the afternoon it spent in my attic while I photographed it, Richard Avedon-style, against a plain white backdrop. I had seen the early draft of the cover from my publisher and I felt strongly that the book must have a picture of an earthworm on it somewhere. So I went outside, dug this one up, and hollered, “You’re gonna be a star!” Then I carried it upstairs for a photography session.

It’s a fine worm. A nightcrawler, Latin name Lumbricus terrestris, the very same worm that Charles Darwin wrote about in his last book, The Formation of Vegetable Mould, Through the Action of Worms, With Observations on Their Habits. This quirky little book is largely forgotten today, but during his lifetime it was one of his bestsellers, probably because he showed such affection for his subject. It was Darwin’s book that inspired me to write a book about earthworms in the first place.

Most writers will tell you that by the time their book has been published, they have forgotten all about it and moved on to something else. But that’s not true of me and my worms. Earthworms are a part of my life. I suppose they always will be.

I started this blog because I knew that things would happen on my book tour that would be stranger than fiction. After all, I’m traveling with worms. It’s bound to get weird.
But that’s not all. I know I’m not the only one who is fascinated by this blind, deaf, and spineless creature that lives underground and swallows dirt for a living. So welcome, worm lovers of the world. This is your home.

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