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Diane Ackerman’s Appearance for One Book, One San Diego at the Jewish Community Center

Emily Robichaud
Diane Ackerman reading at the San Diego Jewish Community Center.

Last night's One Book, One San Diego event with author Diane Ackerman proved to be a wildly popular ticket -- the security guard urgently waved people away from the JCC's full parking lot as early as 6:30. The auditorium was packed, many people clutching their well thumbed copies of "The Zookeeper's Wife." Treated first to a dramatic reading by Mo'olelo Performing Arts Company, the audience was then introduced to a physically diminutive and very glamorous Ackerman. As though channeling the namesake of her book, Ackerman was dressed to the nines in a glamorous leopard spotted pantsuit and a gorgeous mane of dark curly hair. An elegant and compelling speaker, Ackerman was as good a storyteller in person as she is on the page. One of my favorite examples of her insatiable curiosity was the story she told of her hunt for a box of preserved beetles, leading her to a metal trailer outside of Warsaw functioning as an ersatz Wunderkammer for Poland's Natural History Museum. Ackerman also related the story of the Warsaw zoo being bombed by the Nazis-- the animals who survived were loping along the streets of Warsaw, lions, giraffes, rhinos running abreast on the cobblestone streets, momentarily laying aside their predatory drives in what she called a kind of "Biblical hallucination." A really wonderful evening for San Diego.