Harrow, by Joy Williams

Staff Pick

After a career spent calling people out on their mistreatment of nature, Williams could hardly be blamed if she threw up her hands now and left the species to its deadly folly. One senses despair written all over Harrow, which is set in a “post-catastrophic” world, dying because “we are dead to its astonishments,” yet also struggling—like bombed-out Phoenix—to rise anew from its ashes, but the novel doesn’t quite succumb. Challenging, even alienating—do we cheer on the elderly eco-activists with their pathetic plots, laugh at them? Both?— And what of the final, nearly Biblical, vision, as the ten-year-old judge, Jeffrey, a follower of Kafka, changes his name to Enoch (who was “taken from Earth…without passing through death”), finds and loses his beloved Green Galena ? Featuring William’s fierce language, incomparable sharp wit, searing satire, and even admirable characters, this fiction makes a powerful statement from the unprecedented pressures currently at work in the world.             


Harrow: A novel Cover Image
ISBN: 9780525657569
Availability: In Stock—Click for Locations
Published: Knopf - September 14th, 2021

Believers, by Lisa Wells

Staff Pick

Seeing the natural landscape she loved as a child succumb to the concrete of suburbia “radicalized” Wells at an early age; she understood “environment” not as an abstraction, but “where we lived,” and dropped out of school in tenth grade, unwilling to be complicit in civilization’s “unsustainable expansionist system.”  Her thought-provoking and capacious book examines how and why we let this system turn a paradise of natural abundance into a “near dead world.” But even as that process also kills something inside us, we don’t have to live lives as depleted as that of the places we’ve desertified. Surveying a range of art and literature including Gilgamesh, the Bible, and Salgado’s photos of Brazilian mines, she tracks the shifting relationship between humanity and nature; from this conceptual foundation she explores a range of alternatives to mainstream capitalist business as usual, from desert “outlaws” living off the grid to alternative spiritual communities to environmentalists rewilding devastated landscapes. Ultimately, her fascinating book leaves us hopeful: if we can stop dominating and imposing ourselves like colonizers and instead cooperate and adapt, like migrants, we can restore both ourselves and the planet.

Believers: Making a Life at the End of the World Cover Image
ISBN: 9780374110253
Availability: In Stock—Click for Locations
Published: Farrar, Straus and Giroux - July 20th, 2021

Albert and the Whale, by Philip Hoare

Staff Pick

Like the ocean itself, Hoare’s book is a scintillating mix of wonders and surprises. At one level it’s a rich study of the life, work, and times of the German Renaissance master Albrecht Dürer (1471-1528). At another it’s a survey of cetaceans, charting the economic and cultural roles whales have played in a wide range of nations and periods. At yet another it’s a virtuoso performance of associative writing as Hoare expands on the eponymous topics with extended looks at the writing of Herman Melville, Marianne Moore, and Thomas Mann, delves into Dürer’s influence on Goethe and Nietzsche, traces various iterations of the Faust legend, and eulogizes some of the many creatures humans have hunted into extinction. Whether celebrating or lamenting—and the many descriptions of whale slaughters make for painful reading—Hoare’s writing is unfailingly buoyant, his enthusiasm and deep learning lending a certain bioluminescence to the prose; no less than Dürer himself (whose “unity of perception, art, science, and natural history” could describe his own method), Hoare, too, “looks so we can see.”

Albert and the Whale: Albrecht Dürer and How Art Imagines Our World Cover Image
ISBN: 9781643137261
Availability: Backordered
Published: Pegasus Books - May 4th, 2021