Book Review: Invisible Beasts by Sharona Muir

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 …

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Book Review: The Sixth Extinction by Elizabeth Kolbert

The planet has survived five mass extinctions, but it’s the sixth that we should be worried about. Elizabeth Kolbert’s wonderful book The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History outlines the human impact on the globe by following researchers who are studying not only the past but today’s resources and species currently at risk, from the oceans …

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Book Review: An Indomitable Beast: The Remarkable Journey of the Jaguar

An Indomitable Beast: The Remarkable Journey of the Jaguar

Expect to learn a bit about the history of species conservation as Alan Rabinowitz, CEO of Panthera, a nonprofit dedicated to big cat conservation, tells the story of his work to protect the jaguar in An Indomitable Beast (2014, Island Press). Along the way, the book presents numerous ideas of interest to anyone interested in …

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The Necessary Evolution of Environmental Writing

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 …

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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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The Poetic Animal: An open call for art and poetry

If you haven’t heard of the National Museum of Animals and Society, consider this a heads up. You’re going to hear more about this museum in the years ahead, because it stands on the cutting edge of one of the defining social, legal, and political movements of our time. Based in Los Angeles, the museum is now accepting …

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Book Review: A Sand County Almanac by Aldo Leopold

Reading A Sand County Almanac by Aldo Leopold I am struck time and again by how contemporary it feels. This is a testament to Leopold, who wrote this book back in the late 1940s, yet clearly had future generations in mind. Leopold saw the environmental issues we are struggling with today because he was struggling with similar issues in his time. During his life …

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Book Review – The Wildlife Detectives: How Forensic Scientists Fight Crimes Against Nature by Donna M. Jackson

The Wildlife Detectives: How Forensic Scientists Fight Crimes Against Nature by Donna M. Jackson is particularly intriguing for me as a resident of Ashland, Oregon—which is home to the National Fish and Wildlife Forensics Laboratory. Open since 1989, this lab is the only full-service animal crime lab in the world, and all evidence of crimes …

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Siskiyou Prize update – new award, extended deadline

The winner of the Siskiyou Prize, in addition to a cash prize of $1,000 and book publication, will also receive a four-week residency at the PLAYA retreat in central Oregon. PLAYA is a nonprofit organization supporting innovative thinking through work in the arts, literature, natural sciences, and other fields of creative inquiry. On the edge of the Great Basin in central …

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Writing opportunity for undergrads and grads: Sloth, A Journal of Human-Animal Studies

The Animals and Society Institute has launched a journal exclusively for undergraduate and graduate students, to publish papers, book reviews, essays, and other work. Sloth is an online bi-annual journal that publishes international, multi-disciplinary writing by undergraduate students and recent (within three years) graduates that deals with human/non-human animal relationships from the perspectives of the …

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Book Review: Steelies and Other Endangered Species: Stories on Water, by Rebecca Lawton

I began reading this short story collection during a stay at a tiny cabin on Minnesota’s Gull Lake and couldn’t have asked for a more perfect setting to enjoy Rebecca Lawton’s stories. Flipping pages to the soundtrack of the waves hitting the shore, I became effortlessly drawn in to the worlds of the Western whitewater …

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Book Review: Lost Antarctica by James McClintock

As James McClintock points out in his enlightening book, Antarctica is often referred to as “the poster child” for global warming, a bellwether of climate change, the place where we see the most drastic results of a warming planet. McClintock’s Lost Antarctica: Adventures in a Disappearing Land offers a firsthand view of the challenges facing …

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Book Review: Threatened by Eliot Schrefer

Eliot Schrefer’s Threatened reads like a thematic sequel to his 2012 National Book Award finalist Endangered. Both books tell the story of a teenager who leaves human society in Africa for the jungle and the company of other hominines. Where Endangered focused on a Congolese girl’s life changing journey with bonobos, Threatened moves east to Gabonese AIDS orphan, Luc, …

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Book Review – The Bond: Our Kinship with Animals, Our Call to Defend Them by Wayne Pacelle

Wayne Pacelle’s The Bond is much more than its gentle title suggests. Rather than present a quaint book about the human-animal bond, Pacelle (president and CEO of the Humane Society of the United States) takes readers through a complex history of the relationships among human and non-human animals, from farming to hunting to pets to wildlife. …

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Book Review: Flight Behavior by Barbara Kingsolver

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 …

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