Big Snake: The Hunt for the World's Longest Python

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Harper Collins, Nov 16, 2010 - 100 pages
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"Discovery Channel junkie" meets "weekend warrior" in this true story of a terrified desk dweller who sets out to capture the world's longest snake. Out of funding, acclaimed poet Robert Twigger was surfing the Internet for poetry prizes when he came upon a cash reward being offered for the capture of a live snake in excess of thirty feet. Established in 1912 by President Roosevelt following the capture of a twenty-eight-foot reticulated python, the reward had gone unclaimed for eighty-six years, boosting the $1,000 prize to $50,000. About to be married but craving one last adventure, the scrawny Oxford poet sets off for the Far East without either hesitation or serious strategy. No matter that his closest encounter with a live snake was at the reptile house at the Howlett Zoo or that he suffers from ophicliophobia, a fear nearly universal among humans. Twigger is determined to win the moneyand to guarantee that his last escapade as a bachelor will be an unforgettable one.

Part travelogue, part classic adventure, Big Snake grapples with the mythic and symbolic status of one of the world's most fascinating yet dreaded creatures, which are generally the victims of bad press. Trekking through South-East Asia with a band of headhunters, Twigger stalks pythons in the sewers of Kuala Lumpur, is forced to survive on greasy civet cat (a relative of the skunk) deep in the jungle, attempts to date the most beautiful woman in the world, encounters the cobweb hunters of Buru, and evaluates the legacy of Alfred Russel Wallace ("the true discoverer of evolution"). Ultimately, after close encounters with snakes both petite though venomous and harmless yet gargantuan, Twigger eventually comes face-to-face with the big one-but the final capture is not quite what he had in mind.


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ONEKnow Your Onions
TWOMiss Revlon Asia Is Unavailable
THREEDung Sniffing in Borneo
FOURThe Headman Is Hiding
FIVECivet Cat for Breakfast
SIXMenhirs and Moomins Stone Dreaming
SEVENNight Hunt in the Jungle
Plates 1
ELEVENJohnnys Got a Gun
TWELVEThe Three Pas
THIRTEENMr Greasys Rep
FIFTEENThe Island of Ghosts
SIXTEENLast Will and Testament
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EIGHTMurder in the Forest
NINEMagick River
TENBlack Magic Riot
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About the author (2010)

Robert Twigger, the author of Angry White Pyjamas and Big Snake, was born in 1964 and educated at Oxford, where he won the Newdigate Poetry Prize. In 1991 he went to Japan, studied traditional martial arts, and completed the course for the Tokyo riot police. In 1996 Twigger trained as a bullfighter in Spain, went looking for bona fide zombies in Haiti, and reported for the Daily Telegraph on chain gangs in Arizona. In 1997 he spent four months in Indonesia, attempting to capture the longest snake in the world. After many setbacks and adventures, his team succeeded in capturing a python twenty-six feet long -- almost certainly a world record for a snake currently in captivity. In addition to writing books, he is a regular contributor to Esquire, Maxim, the Daily Telegraph, and the Financial Times. He lives in London.

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