A studbook refers to a breeding registry for captive animals.
In “The Stud Book,” author Monica Drake uses metaphors to represent the endless human reproduction and parenting on a small and crowded planet.
In the ensemble piece, the novel ties the lives’ of multiple characters dealing with modern parenting and family life issues of the Pacific Northwest into one another.
“I enjoyed lacing individual stories together, seeing how they play against one another. As a story in part about population, it seemed necessary that the book be populated,” Drake wrote in an email. “My goal, and my interest, was to see how people live side by side, sometimes annoying one another but always with love,” Drake said.
About 20 years ago, Drake was an intern studying animal behavior at the Oregon Zoo in Portland.
She spent a majority of her time observing three infant elephants as they grew up.
“Sometimes I felt like a very hands-off babysitter, just watching those big, darling babies play and writing down their actions,” Drake wrote.
Her motivation for “The Stud Book” didn’t come until later down the line, when returning back to the zoo with her own child.
“On any sunny day, the zoo is crowded with children, running wild, and most of the animals in the cages are endangered. If you read the signs in front of the enclosures, you start to notice that one of the main reasons animal populations are dwindling is human encroachment,” Drake said.
Drake recalls her experience returning to the zoo, by then the infant elephants were grown up and one of the elephant even had his own offspring.
“Usually, even as you try to read those words there will be a child climbing on the sign, or slapping the enclosure, kids everywhere,” Drake said.
“It’s an incredibly mixed emotion, I think, to love human babies and children so very much and take them to a zoo, where this onslaught of babies–human population at large, really–is highlighted as a serious environmental concern,” Drake said.
In her novel, the motivation of zoo animals and the correlation it ties to humans drives the story.
“I wanted to write about that, but also to find the human in humanity, in the struggle of trying to find and manage our place in the world,” Drake said.
Though Drake doesn’t have an intended message for her novel, “The Stud Book,” she does hope for it to raise a few questions about population, the decision to have children and the question of biological diversity.
“In other words, how we’re all going to live together, all these people, in exponentially increasing generations. But also, I hope readers might find a few laughs and enjoy the book,” Drake said.
Drake also hopes that people will read her book because she truly thinks readers will enjoy it and take something from her novel. Drake is also the author of “Clown Girl,” a novel winner of the Eric Hoffer Award, which is also known as an Independent Publishers Award.
The author of the novel, Drake, will be discussing “The Stud Book,” Thursday, Oct. 24, in the Austin Reading Room in Nicholson Library at 7:30 p.m.
Special Lovincey / Columnist
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Photo courtesy of Monica Drake
Author Monica Drake will be giving a reading and discussion of her book “The Stud book” on Thursday, Oct. 24 in the Austin Reading Room in Nicholson Library. Drake is also the author of Eric Hoffer Award winning novel, “Clown Girl.”