Fen, Bog and Swamp, by Annie Proulx

Staff Pick

If Proulx’s expansive Barkskins were stripped down to its nonfiction bones, it might be the kind of brief, deeply researched chronicle this one is. With different kinds of peatlands and the story of their use and abuse standing in for characters and plot, this book is as impassioned and immersive as any of Proulx’s fictions (and if we’re lucky is the basis for a future novel). Adroitly presenting tens of thousands of years of natural  history, including the development of peat and the special properties of sphagnum moss, then moving into the central role of wetlands in indigenous cultures, their destruction by Europeans, and surveying the range of objects they’ve preserved, Proulx writes with her usual literary flare, showing us “light softening to peach nectar,” enriching our estuary English with words including paludification and histol, speculating on the types of peatland in Dante’s Inferno, and reminding us of the beauty and wonder of that life-giving element, water, the “original shape shifter.”


Fen, Bog and Swamp: A Short History of Peatland Destruction and Its Role in the Climate Crisis By Annie Proulx Cover Image
ISBN: 9781982173357
Availability: Not On Our Shelves—Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Scribner - September 27th, 2022