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Animal Husbandry Paperback – December 29, 1998

113 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews Review

Laura Zigman's literary skirmish in the ongoing battle of the sexes is based on a singularly unoriginal observation: the tendency of human males to love 'em and leave 'em, uh, apes the behavior of nearly every other male animal on Earth. If bulls refuse to mate with an "Old Cow," why should women be surprised when they're thrown over? The veracity of this (sexist? sure!) idea aside, Zigman tells the story of jilted Jane Goodall wittily and winningly. Any excess of feminine venom is offset by the suspicion that Zigman is speaking from painful experience. And if she's not, it's a testament to the effectiveness of Animal Husbandry that it's so easy to think so. Here's a taste:
In the metamorphosis from Cow to New Cow, the Current-Cow sob story is an important phase: "I know we just met, but did I happen to mention how sad, miserable, misunderstood, and lonely I've been my whole life?"
This is crucial to introducing the myth of male shyness and the poor-guy persona--common disguises for a wolf in sheep's clothing. "You're so easy to talk to, not like my Current Cow."
Animal Husbandry is likely to be a good, cathartic read for anyone who's been dumped (and who hasn't?). Obviously, male readers will require a thick skin--or at least a sense of humor. But even the most sensitive males will recognize the grain of truth that creates this pearl of break-up literature. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From Library Journal

Jane Goodall, not the anthropologist, but rather a bright, thirtysomething Manhattan talk-show producer who is no novice to romance, staggers under the weight of being cruelly, inexplicably dumped by Ray, the man of her dreams. Nearly paralyzed by this betrayal, she becomes a self-appointed amateur scientist, studying the mating habits of the animal kingdom to make sense of her senseless human world. Jane's best friends, magazine executive Joan and David, a gay freelance fashion photographer, commiserate, having been dumped by any number of perfect men themselves. Jane's hilarious, poignant observations lead her to her New Cow/Old Cow theory as observed in the bovine population?as soon as a fledgling love interest (New Cow) becomes a familiar and known quantity, she is relegated to Old Cow status, and the hunt is on for fresh bait. Jane is able to parlay her wildlife studies into a hugely successful (if short-lived) magazine column. Readers will find themselves racing through this novel for each insight and may well close the cover, sighing in relief, "Whew, it's not just me." Highly recommended.
-?Beth E. Andersen, Ann Arbor Dist. Lib., Mich.
Copyright 1997 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Dial Press Trade Paperback (March 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0385319037
  • ISBN-13: 978-0385319034
  • Product Dimensions: 5 x 0.7 x 7.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (113 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #210,120 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Laura Zigman grew up in Newton, Massachusetts (where she felt she never quite fit in), and graduated from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst (where she didn't fit in either) and the Radcliffe Publishing Procedures Course (where she finally started to feel like she fit in). She spent ten years working (slaving away) in New York in book publishing where she was a (much-abused under-appreciated) publicist for Times Books, Vintage Books, Turtle Bay Books, Atlantic Monthly Press, and Alfred A. Knopf. After moving to Washington, D.C. (because she was burnt out and didn't know where else to go) and working briefly as a project manager for The Smithsonian Associates (she had a cubicle) and a consultant for Share Our Strength, an anti-poverty non-profit group (she didn't even have a cubicle), she (finally) finished her first novel (that she'd been writing in her 'spare time' for the last five years). (The thinly-disguised autobiographical novel) Animal Husbandry was published in 1998 by The Dial Press and became a national bestseller. It was published in fourteen countries (or more, she's not sure) and in 2001 the film based on the book, 'Someone Like You,' (they changed the title at the last minute because they were afraid people wouldn't 'get' the meaning of the original title -- not that she's complaining or anything) starring Ashley Judd and (excuse her while she drools) Hugh Jackman, was released by Fox 2000. Her second (thinly-disguised autobiographical) novel, Dating Big Bird, also published by The Dial Press, came out in 2000, and her third (thinly disguised autobiographical) novel, Her, published by Knopf (where she once worked ' an exquisite irony), followed in 2002. Her latest (thinly-disguised autobiographical) novel, Piece of Work, to be published by Warner Books on September 25, 2006 (finally, after four long years in between books ' maybe her parents will now leave her alone), is based on her (horrific but entertaining) experiences as a publicist and has been optioned by Tom Hanks' production company, Playtone Pictures, with My Big Fat Greek Wedding's Nia Vardalos (luff her) set to write the screenplay and star in the movie (please God let that happen).
She currently lives outside Boston (in the same town she grew up in '- how weird is that? ' and where she now feels like fits in) with her husband and young son.
(Oh, and she finally has a website:

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

20 of 20 people found the following review helpful By Dianna Setterfield on October 22, 2001
Format: Paperback
Talk about a bitter woman! Jane Goodall has recently been dumped and wants to know why. She embarks on a mission to find out the reasoning behind her ex's strange behavior, and in doing so, finds some interesting parallels of the seducing, mating and moving-on habits between animals and men. Coming up with her own suggestion based on these ideals, Jane's Old-Cow-New-Cow theory is a sure-fire hit. Or is it?
Laura Zigman has written a totally fun and witty novel about one woman's heartbreak and the desperation she has in proving it wasn't all because of her. I laughed, I sympathized. Jane Goodall embodies a gamut of emotions that comes with being dumped -- and believe me, we get to sample them all! This novel is wonderfully written and contains fascinating insight into male behavior. Easy to read and quick to get through, Animal Husbandry makes you a believer in the Old-Cow-New-Cow theory, and just as easily makes you think again. Bravo, kudos, applause, applause. Can't wait to read Laura's next book. Oh, how I love to be entertained.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By on April 9, 1998
Format: Hardcover
After reading the first chapter of this book on Amazon, I sent a link to 25 of my women friends, telling them that this was a must read. I didn't do this because I thought the book was Great Literature. I did it because I thought the book pretty well described the emotional disembowelment of being dumped and its messy aftermath. But in a funny way.
The controversial COW THEORY (see above reviews) really isnt the point of the book. The narrator says so at the bottom of page four and continuing on to page five. The COW THEORY is merely the result of the protagonist, Jane Goodall(Laura Zigman? me? Your Name Here?) trying to make some sense of being discarded like a stained JCrew buttondown.

Everyone who has been dumped secretly suspects, that s/he is rejected because of some inherent flaw that makes them instrinsically unloveable. The obsessive, sometimes absurd things we do to prove to ourselves otherwise can be either comic or tragic. This book opts for the comic approach.

And lets face it, cows are funny. And absurd. COW THEORY is funny and absurd. My friends and I enjoyed COW THEORY. (UsedCowLot is not available as a screenname on AOL, by the way). I thought that the more man-bashing elements of COW THEORY were mitigated by using the cow instead of, oh, let's say, the pig. PIG THEORY isn't nearly as funny, since that lends itself too neatly to the idea that all men are pigs.

The book has some structural flaws, but I hesitate to comment on them at length, since I don't think I could write any better. I say, buy the book, laugh without guilt and when your best guy buddy is crying on your shoulder about how his g/f dumped him, explain about the lure of the NEW BULL.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Sarah Hill on January 30, 2005
Format: Paperback
Walk into any bookstore, look for pastel titles with curly writing on them, and you've easily found all of the shallow chick lit titles that have flooded the market. These are mostly the unfortunate spawn of really great books like "Animal Husbandry" and, of course, "Bridget Jones's Diary."

Ignore the pastel sea and pick up "Animal Husbandry." Here you'll find a funny and sad story about a realistic woman--someone who has frizzy hair and reads the New Yorker, and who goes to pieces after the sort of breakup that happens to most people. This was brilliance on Zigman's part, and the book is a great story about how normal-ish things impact us deeply. Beneath the humor (which is great) is a very touching story that has more depth than most books.
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23 of 28 people found the following review helpful By on May 6, 1998
Format: Audio Cassette
Oh please. Another bitter, boring, been dumped story. The "cleverness" of the prose sustained my interest for about twenty pages, after that, my annoyance was the only thing that kept going.
I've heard that men feel insulted by this book. I don't blame them. As a female, I'm apalled by how my gender is treated. The women in this book are whiny, self centered, self absorbed, and spend more time bashing the male sex, than actually trying to do something positive about their own lives.
After being dumped, Jane plops herself down on a ratty couch, drinks copiously, and complains to her friends about how badly she's been treated. Then, after reading a couple of books on psychology, evolution, anthropology, and agriculture, she comes up with this "new" theory: Men are biologically incapable of committing. Ho hum. I heard this new theory in Psychology 101. But apparently the magazines and the newspapers that exist in the world of the novel are gullible enough to find this theory brilliant. And speaking of gullible.... Jane, after dating a man for less than two months, gives up her great apartment to move in with him. Two months! Get a clue, lady.
Had "Animal Husbandry" at least been well written, I wouldn't have felt so cheated. But in chapter one, the character tells you what is going to happen in the book, and if you didn't catch it the first time, she repeats it throughout the chapters, and if after finishing the book, you still missed what happened, you can always go back in read the chapter titles, which tell you exactly what will occur in each chapter.
I'm tired of reading books, reading articles, seeing television shows about unhappy single city women.
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