A few weeks ago, I saw an excellent review of a new book, Anthill, by E.O. Wilson. Still, after reading the review, I wasn’t sure if I wanted to get bogged down in a book about ants and an environmentalist. That’s what I thought until the other day, when I visited my local library and saw the title on the new book shelf. Clearly it was calling me, and I took a chance. I’m glad that I did.
The novel traces the life of Raff Cody, an inquisitive, eco-friendly young man living “on the Gulf Coastal Plain, on the fringe of the North American subtropics,” also known as Alabama. Throughout his boyhood, Raff is completely enamored of an undeveloped piece of pristine Alabama land. His commitment to his environment follows him through high school into college, then onto Harvard Law and into corporate America.
What is truly stunning in Mr. Wilson’s first work of fiction is the care the Pulitzer Prize-winning author takes in describing and celebrating the rich biodioversity that often comes into conflict with developers. While most of the book follows the efforts of Raff to preserve his piece of the planet while balancing his corporate responsibilities, one section can stand on its own as an impressive piece of writing.