Beyond The Human Realm

Beyond the Human Realm, A Novel by Gene Helfman (Luminare Press, July, 2021 Review by JoeAnn Hart             It’s not an easy feat to write in an animal POV without the voice seeming weird or childish, but Gene Helfman pulls it off. Do I want to read an entire novel in an orca POV? Probably not. …

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Book Review: Dark Side of the Ocean

If you are one of those for whom solid scientific information is a balm for environmental anxiety, Dark Side of the Ocean is the book for you. Albert Bates, the author of 18 books on climate, history, and ecology, provides a torrent of information in easy to understand language. It is technical but not thick. It …

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OINK

OINK Book Review by JoeAnn Hart Exisle Publishing, November 2019 By Renée Hollis There is a saying in the book reviewer world, that if you review a book with a pig on the cover, you will be destined to review all books with pigs on the cover. And so it has come to pass. Not …

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Book Review: Kinship Of Clover

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 …

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The Narrow Edge

    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 …

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The Best American Science and Nature Writing, 2014

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 …

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Book Review: Trash Animals

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

TrashAnimals

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 cockroaches and rats, who clean up after us. And we don’t much like animals who invade environments we have created for our own enjoyment, such as Canada Geese on golf courses, or coyotes in suburban yards. They can alter the landscape! They can destroy the land and the water!

What invasive, destructive species does that remind you of?

Unknown

Reading these pieces, I know I am as prejudice or blind as most. In the essay “See Gull,”

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Home Ground, A Guide to the American Landscape

Edited by Barry Lopez and Debra Gwartney

(Trinity University Press, field edition 2013)

 

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“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. The evocative phrase angle of repose

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Writing Wild

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, …

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The Human Shore, Seacoasts in History by John R. Gillis

 

The Human Shore, by John Gillis University of Chicago Press, 2012
The Human Shore, University of Chicago Press, 2012

 

The interior section of Cape Ann, which includes Gloucester and Rockport, is called Dogtown. It was the earliest part of the Cape to be settled, and was later abandoned, so that its only occupants for many years were dogs, witches, and other assorted outcasts. It is still largely undeveloped. “Why here?” visitors ask,

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The Best American Science and Nature Writing 2013

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 …

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Falling In Love With Trees

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 …

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