View Post

Book Review: Marrow Island by Alexis M. Smith

In Book Reviews, Fiction, Oil, Pollution by Midge Raymond0 Comments

Alexis M. Smith’s lovely novel Marrow Island envisions environmental catastrophe on several levels, beginning with a devastating earthquake and the subsequent oil refinery accident whose effects, even though these events are backstory, linger on every page. The novel begins with a mysterious opening chapter, in which Lucie Bowen, twenty years after the earthquake, is again fleeing the island of her youth, this time under very different circumstances. Unlike during the earthquake, which Lucie and her best friend, Katie, survived together, Katie now is a suspicious presence (“I’m not leaving you alone with her,” says Lucie’s boyfriend, Carey); by the end of this …

View Post

Book Review: Me and My Daddy Listen to Bob Marley by Ann Pancake

In Book Reviews, Climate Change, Conservation, Fiction by Midge Raymond0 Comments

Ann Pancake’s new story collection, Me and My Daddy Listen to Bob Marley, brings readers to the West Virginia territory of her extraordinary novel, Strange As This Weather Has Been. In these novellas and stories, the ravaged West Virginia landscape is such a deeply ingrained part of these characters’ lives that those who move away are lured back—even if they may not completely understand why. In “The Following,” a Seattle woman finds herself mysteriously drawn to animal bones, eventually using a job interview as an excuse to return to her homeland: “many days I felt so feral I’d choose homelessness …

View Post

Book Review: Invisible Beasts by Sharona Muir

In Animal Behavior, Animal Rights, Book Reviews, Endangered Species, Fiction by Midge Raymond0 Comments

Sharona Muir’s Invisible Beasts is an absolute delight, and not only for animal lovers. This smart, whimsical novel takes readers not only into a world of “invisible beasts” but into the mind of a charmingly quirky character. The novel is written in a nonfiction style, as a personal bestiary by a woman with a genetic gift (passed down from her granduncle and occurring again, she learns, in her nephew)—the ability to see invisible animals. “Why have I written a book that could expose me, and my family, to ridicule and imputations of lunacy?” Sophie asks in her introduction. The answer sets …

View Post

The Necessary Evolution of Environmental Writing

In Animal Rights, Climate Change, Conservation, Endangered Species, Essays, For Writers, Oceans, Pollution, Trees by John Yunker5 Comments

Halfway through reading The Outermost House: A Year of Life on the Great Beach of Cape Cod by Henry Beston, I came across the following passage: A new danger, moreover, now threatens the birds at sea. An irreducible residue of crude oil, called by refiners ‘slop,’ remains in stills after oil distribution, and this is pumped into southbound tankers and emptied far offshore. This wretched pollution floats over large areas, and the birds alight into it and get it on their feathers. They inevitably die. The passage startled me because so much of the book up to that point was …

View Post

Opportunity for writers: The Siskiyou Prize for New Environmental Literature

In Animal Rights, Climate Change, Endangered Species, Fiction, For Writers, Nonfiction, Oceans, Veganism, Writing Opportunities by Midge Raymond0 Comments

Ashland Creek Press has just announced its new book award, The Siskiyou Prize for New Environmental Literature. The 2014 prize will be judged by New York Times bestselling author Karen Joy Fowler, whose most recent book is We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves. (Check out Shel Graves’ review of the book here.) The contest is open to unpublished, full-length prose manuscripts, including novels, memoirs, short story collections, and essay collections. The winner will receive a cash award of $1,000 and publication by Ashland Creek Press. The submission deadline is September 30, 2014. For complete writers’ guidelines, click here. “New environmental literature” refers to literary works that …

View Post

Book Review: Strange As This Weather Has Been by Ann Pancake

In Book Publishers, Fiction, Pollution by Midge Raymond1 Comment

Ann Pancake’s powerful novel Strange as This Weather Has Been is a must-read not only due to its compelling story but also its accomplishments as a work of eco-literature. This novel captures what a good book does best—revealing our humanity in the midst of beauty and grief and heartbreak and joy—while simultaneously opening readers’ eyes to environmental disaster, without ever sacrificing character or story. Set in a West Virginian town in the midst of a coal boom, Pancake introduces a family plagued by poverty and by the effects of the mountaintop removal strip mining that is destroying the land around …

View Post

Book Review: The Lorax by Dr. Seuss

In Book Reviews, Children's Books, Pollution by Mindy Mejia2 Comments

In a quiet part of town where the houses stand close and evening stretches long the shade of the garden hose and the baby falls asleep clutching her teddy bear’s toes . . . it’s time to read my son The Lorax. We’ve read this book for almost a month to the day and our ritual always begins the same way, snuggling on top of my bed, he tilts up his tow head and asks, “Why the Lorax is lifted away?” We pretend not to know why the Lorax will leave and we crack the book and start the nightly …

View Post

The Earth Goddess and Fiction

In For Writers by JoeAnn Hart0 Comments

  With the Summer Solistice upon us, it’s a good time to revisit the Earth Goddess and her literary legacy. In sync with the first Earth Day in 1970, when I was an impressionable 14 year-old, women were throwing off the shackles of patriarchy in the streets and in their homes, even in churches, chucking out any male god who lived on a cloud. Many turned to the Old Religion, governed by the Goddess, who once reigned over a peaceful, matrilineal world in harmony with Nature. Then, according to legend, the priests came, driving her and her followers underground where …

View Post

Q&A with Mindy Mejia, author of The Dragon Keeper

In Animal Rights, Endangered Species, Q&A by Midge Raymond0 Comments

Q&A with Mindy Mejia, author of The Dragon Keeper Q: How did you come up with the idea for The Dragon Keeper, and how long did it take you to write it? Did you have a special routine or place in which you wrote?  A: I was on a business trip in London in December of 2006 when I read an article in the paper about a Komodo dragon reproducing via parthenogenesis at the Chester Zoo. Since it was so close to Christmas, the article made a lot of overt comparisons to the Virgin Mary, and the tone of the entire piece was …