This collection of thirty-six original fables and prose poems, each of them centered on a different animal, began as a whimsical writing exercise whose sole goal was to entertain the author and his friends. From the whale to the skunk, the mongoose to the tortoise and hare, and even bringing to the page less obvious “beasts” such as plankton, anemones, and a monkey prince—the book soon developed into a full-fledged menagerie of tales including everything from a creation myth to a meditation on death.
Eighteen of America’s most revered contemporary artists were given the manuscript and asked to contribute original artworks—woodcuts, linoleum cuts, pochoir—to accompany the texts. The result is one of the more beautiful livres d’artistes from this fertile period, handsomely printed by the Grenfell Press and bound by Claudia Cohen, in a limited edition of 100 numbered copies signed by the author and artists. The book has been exhibited in such institutions as the New York Public Library and the Metropolitan Museum of Art.