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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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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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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Fill ‘er up: A review of Living Oil by Stephanie LeMenager

Living Oil: Petroleum Culture in the American Century by Stephanie LeMenager  is an academic book and priced accordingly. In other words, this is not the sort of book you’d find in an airport bookstore. Perhaps it should be. This book provides historical and cultural insights into our complex relationship with oil — from the “peak discovery” period of the …

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

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 …

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

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 …

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Book Review: Countdown by Alan Weisman

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 …

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