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Book Review: The Drowned World by J.G. Ballard

In Book Reviews, Climate Change, Fiction by Shel Graves

Read this in the heat of August — languorous, sweltering, submerged. It begins, “Soon it would be too hot.” J.G. Ballard’s The Drowned World is a classic in the growing genre of climate fiction — fiction that brings attention to climate change. It’s not about the cause of a manmade global catastrophe (For this, Martin Amis, in the introduction to the 50th Anniversary edition, recommends Ballard’s The Drought 1964), but it does sink the reader quickly into the effect of a world grown prehistorically hot and inhospitable to human life. The change is quickly summarized in dialogue, “Well, one could …

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Book Review: Flight Behavior by Barbara Kingsolver

In Book Reviews, Climate Change, Endangered Species, Fiction by Midge Raymond

Barbara Kingsolver’s Flight Behavior does all that a great work of eco-fiction should, addressing the issues (climate change) without sacrificing the story (a woman whose small-town world is broken wide open by a mysterious act of nature). Dellarobia Turnbow, married at seventeen due to a pregnancy in which she lost the baby, is a decade later still married, tied to her two young children and husband’s family farm. She escapes emotionally through wild crushes on various men—and one day, planning to go through with an affair, she heads into the mountains for the rendezvous, only to find a “lake of fire” …

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Cli-fi

In Climate Change, Education, For Writers by John Yunker

I enjoyed this recent New York Times article on universities using fiction (or “cli-fi”) to teach climate change. I particularly enjoyed seeing our own University of Oregon represented. Go Ducks! From the article: University courses on global warming have become common, and Prof. Stephanie LeMenager’s new class here at the University of Oregon has all the expected, alarming elements: rising oceans, displaced populations, political conflict, endangered animals. The goal of this class, however, is not to marshal evidence for climate change as a human-caused crisis, or to measure its effects — the reality and severity of it are taken as …

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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 Raymond

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 …

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Book Review: Comfortably Unaware: What We Choose to Eat Is Killing Us and Our Planet by Richard Oppenlander

In Book Reviews, Climate Change, Nonfiction, Oceans, Pollution, Veganism by Midge Raymond

Richard Oppenlander’s Comfortably Unaware is a book everyone on the planet should read. Unfortunately, the book’s biggest drawback is that it may not feel accessible to those who need to read it most. In Comfortably Unaware, Oppenlander makes the case for why the planet needs us humans to adopt a plant-based diet in order to preserve the earth’s rapidly dwindling resources. His sources and statistics are compelling and spot-on—and yet they’re not nearly as well known among environmentalists as they should be. Without question, to be an environmentalist is to be a vegan; as Oppenlander highlights throughout this slender book, …

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Book Review: Taking Back Eden: Eight Environmental Cases that Changed the World by Oliver Houck

In Book Reviews, Climate Change, Nonfiction, Oceans by Midge Raymond

Oliver A. Houck’s Taking Back Eden is one of those books that can offer great hope during tough environmental times. Published by Island Press in 2011, this book’s relevance is only going to grow as we face more environmental obstacles and challenges. Taking Back Eden, which presents environmental lawsuits brought in eight countries, offers an inspiring look at those who use the legal system to protect and preserve the planet. The book is also rich in the history of the environmental movement; Houck notes that the first Earth Day, in April of 1970 in the U.S., caught everyone by surprise: “As if …

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Happy New Year from EcoLit Books

In Animal Rights, Climate Change, Endangered Species, Events, Fiction, Oceans by Midge Raymond

Happy new year, readers and writers! We are looking forward to a new year of eco-literature and already have a great lineup of new reviews coming soon. For all of you who live in the Seattle area or who are attending AWP, we’d love to see you at our eco-lit panel on Saturday, March 1, at 12 noon: The Greening of Literature: Eco-fiction and poetry to enlighten and inspire. The panel will be moderated by John Yunker, who will be joined by eco-minded authors, essayists, and poets: JoeAnn Hart, Mindy Mejia, Ann Pancake, and Gretchen Primack. Authors on this panel discuss how their ecologically …

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Book Review: Countdown by Alan Weisman

In Book Reviews, Climate Change, Endangered Species, Nonfiction, Oceans, Pollution, Veganism by Midge Raymond

Alan Weisman’s Countdown: Our Last, Best Hope for a Future on Earth? follows his fascinating book The World Without Us, this time asking the question: What will become of the world with us? And not only with us but with a whole lot more of us. As with his previous book, Countdown is wide-ranging work of journalism in which Weisman merges facts and projections about the world’s fate with real-life anecdotes and evidence from experts and citizens of more than twenty regions, from Italy to Uganda to Iran to the Philippines. It’s this balance of science and humanity, of hard …

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Book Review: MaddAddam Trilogy by Margaret Atwood

In Book Reviews, Climate Change, Endangered Species, Fiction by Shel Graves

How do you feel about lab grown meat? Glowing, green bunnies? Is our future weird, repulsive, curious, frightening and delightful? Margaret Atwood’s MaddAddam Trilogy — Oryx and Crake (2003), The Year of the Flood (2009), and MaddAddam (2013) — captures it all. It takes the reader into an apocalyptic future of genetically-modified, transgenic everything to explore the social implications of modern bioscience and extrapolate the horrors of our current environmental trajectory. It’s intriguing speculative EcoLit. “People need stories…because however dark, a darkness with voices in it is better than a silent void.” — MaddAddam Atwood’s trilogy offers useful insight. It …