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NONFICTION

DUNWOODY POND by John Janovy Jr. (St. Martin’s: $22.95; 288 pp.) Easy enough to regard in awe a sunset or a mighty thunderstorm. Not so easy to get worked up over the ciliated protozoa that live on the surfaces of caddis-fly larvae. John Janovy does, though. He gets positively rapturous at the sight of a microscopic parasite that over the eons has developed the tools and wiles to enable it to survive--to thrive--in the innards of some bug or other. More extraordinary, he gets you excited too, in a thoroughly engaging hosanna to pure science and purer scientists, the young men and women of independent spirit who renounce fortune and fame to pursue questions that lead only to more questions. Janovy takes us on an exploratory voyage through enchanted country, a land that need be no bigger than a puddle in your back yard. The eponymous pond of his title happens to be in the Nebraska plains. “The mystery of the universe,” he writes, “written small and near, surrounds you, crawls up your leg, bites you on the neck, and leaves black muck under your toenails.”


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