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Book Review: Kinship Of Clover

In Book Reviews by JoeAnn Hart

Kinship Of Clover, a novel by Ellen Meeropol Red Hen Press, 2017 Ellen Meeropol’s third novel, Kinship of Clover, spreads out over generations and from multiple points of views, with one eye on the aging 60’s generation of activists, and another on the rising generation. One of these is Jeremy, a college student so obsessed with plant genocide, he finds himself compulsively repeating the names of the departed species: dryopteris ascensionis, fitcha mangarevenis. An endless list. His obsession threatens to send him over the edge as he starts hallucinating plants, in effect bringing them back to life through his grief. …

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The Narrow Edge

In Animal Behavior, Birds, Book Reviews, Climate Change, Conservation, Endangered Species, Nonfiction, Oceans, Pollution by JoeAnn Hart

    The Narrow Edge By Deborah Cramer Yale University Press, 2015.   The “narrow edge” in the title of this engaging book by Deborah Cramer evokes the image of comedian Harold Lloyd, in the 1923 film Safety Last!, teetering on a skyscraper ledge, clinging for dear life to the hands of a clock. It is an apt metaphor for the uncertain future of the red knot (“a small sandpiper about the size of a robin and weighing about as much as a coffee cup”), which roams the sliver of sand between land and sea, a precarious place to be …

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Zoologies

In Animal Behavior, Birds, Book Reviews, Climate Change, Conservation, Endangered Species, Nonfiction by JoeAnn Hart

Zoologies, On Animals and the Human Spirit (Milkweed Editions) By Alison Hawthorne Deming Every day, as I walk from house to barn, or go up the driveway to get the mail, I am closely monitored by the resident crows who glide from oak to oak, loudly discussing my movements amongst themselves. In a cacophony of caws and clacks, I understand the gist of their conversation: Look, look. There she is! Here she comes! Is she carrying food? Are her barking things with her? Look, look. She’s going back to her nest! She’s gone. Crows are intelligent animals with the leisure …

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The Best American Science and Nature Writing, 2014

In Animal Behavior, Book Reviews, Climate Change, Conservation, Endangered Species, Nonfiction by JoeAnn Hart

Once a year, courtesy of Houghton Mifflin, we get to be wowed, disgusted, depressed, amazed, revolted, terrified, and sometimes even amused with the publication of The Best American Science and Nature Writing. This is not a book geared for science nerds, this is reading for anyone interested in life. I wish there was a different name to use other than “science,” so that the word would not conjure up the dry horrors of high school chemistry and biology, so boring, so gross, so uncool. We are now paying the price of having not paid enough attention all along, but it …

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Book Review: Trash Animals

In Animal Behavior, Animal Rights, Birds, Book Reviews, Nonfiction by JoeAnn Hart

How we live with nature’s filthy, feral, invasive, and unwanted species Kelsi Nagy and Phillip David Johnson II, editors University of Minnesota Press, 2013 In this collected cross-section of stories and essays about trash animals — the loathed species we deem dirty or dangerous nuisances, such as pigeons and coyotes — the authors differ in subject matter and narrative focus, but they all have one thing in common. They ask that we see these animals in a new light. Why is that so difficult? Mostly, as the authors argue, because we hate species who survive on our sloth, such as …

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Home Ground, A Guide to the American Landscape

In Book Reviews, Climate Change, Conservation, Endangered Species, For Writers, Nonfiction, Oceans, Pollution by JoeAnn Hart

Edited by Barry Lopez and Debra Gwartney (Trinity University Press, field edition 2013)   “What draws our attention?” Barry Lopez asks in his introduction of Home Ground, a surprisingly entertaining guide to the language of the American landscape. Humans are predisposed to pay attention to subtle changes in the natural world, harking back to our hunting/gathering days, when knowing and naming these distinctions helped the tribe find dinner, or discourage the setting up of camp on shifting sands. Lopez and Gwartney commissioned a tribe of writers to gather up the words and define them through the lens of the humanities. …

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Writing Wild

In Book Reviews, For Writers by JoeAnn Hart

Writing Wild Forming a Creative Partnership With Nature By Tina Welling New World Library, 2014   My favorite quote from Writing Wild is one Tina Welling borrows from Jesus, of all people: “If you bring forth what is within you, what is within you will save you.” This comes from the non-canonical Gospel of Thomas, which was considered too New Age in its day, and promptly buried. Likewise, with its touchy-feely Spirit Walks, Writing Wild has a whiff of New Age about it, but should by no means be buried. Taken with the right pragmatic attitude, the walks are touchy-feely …

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The Best American Science and Nature Writing 2013

In Book Reviews, Nonfiction by JoeAnn Hart

The Best American Science and Nature Writing 2013. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. Edited by Siddhartha Mukherjee. Tim Folger, Series Editor…   Science is a scary word. At least, it used to be for those of us who grew up messing around in the hazy world of literature and art, not empirical facts. Science was what made it possible to go to the moon, so science meant rocket science. But it seems to me now that a fear of science is a result of a rigid (and, in my day, gender-biased) educational system, where disciplines are divvied up into discrete categories, as if …

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Falling In Love With Trees

In Book Reviews, Trees by JoeAnn Hart

Seeing Trees Discover the Extraordinary Secrets of Everyday Trees. Timber Press, 2011 By Nancy Ross Hugo Photography by Robert Llewellyn “The most effective way to save the threatened and decimated natural world is to cause people to fall in love with it again, with its beauty and reality.” Author Nancy Ross Hugo quotes British naturalist Peter Scott to explain why she does what she does, which is to delve deeply into the nature of individual trees. She wants the reader to come along with her on this journey, in the hope that to know trees is to love them. Seeing Trees …