Ninety-nine point nine percent of all species which have existed on Earth are now extinct. And although species die off every year, extinctions are concentrated in six major episodes throughout the planet’s history. The most significant of these was the Permian-Triassic event, wherein greater than 90% of all diversity on Earth was lost. By contrast, the most recent and well-known mass extinction, the Cretaceous-Paleogene event, in which the non-avian dinosaurs perished, was comparatively mild, eliminating roughly 75% of extant species. And while the very episode that wiped out the dinosaurs also created the conditions leading to our existence, the next mass extinction is likely to call that existence into question.
Stinky McGuirk will not be remembered as an exceptional guinea pig. Never really more than a novice climber, his problem solving skills were in the lower percentiles for the Caviidae family. Averse to water. His aroma, questionable.
He had the appearance of a perpetually shell-shocked rodent — twitchy, trembling. Bug-eyes staring vacantly into the middle distance. His ginger and white hair stuck out at every angle, like some demented throw-cushion.
The last guinea pig in the pet shop, he looked like he needed a good home. And Jessica, suffering twin indignities of living through high-school and her parents’ divorce, was in need of a loyal friend.
In one of the wittier moments in Rob Doyle’s latest book—a sprawling account of one man’s quest for meaning in the pharmacological era—the narrator visits the world-renowned Shakespeare and Company bookshop in Paris. There, among other things, he searches in vain for texts by Maurice Blanchot and Pierre Klossowski, and repositions copies of his own novel to cover the works of rival authors. Observing that the Parisian bookshop is as much a tourist attraction as a place in which to acquire books, he bemoans the many patrons who visit the store solely to be photographed, and who shuffle off with a book or two from ‘usual suspects’ such as ‘Kerouac, Bukowski, Hemingway, and Salinger.’