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: In Stock—Click for Locations
Published: Scribner - September 27th, 2022

The River You Touch, by Chris Dombrowski

Staff Pick

When Dombrowski listens to a native storyteller, he’s transported by the sheer “elemental presence” of her words—they strike as viscerally as “pitched water running over a rock.” Readers of his almost preternaturally aware memoir/nature chronicle will feel a similar power in this poet’s own prose. He can see a moonlit salmon “on the pearl-colored gravel…lanky from territorial battles …tail shredded, misaligned kype jaw bulbous and scarred", or listen to a male meadowlark sing “a combination of notes that mimic the moving water’s unpredictability.” Being open to such experiences is the ideal life for this writer and fishing guide, his way of “becoming infused by the immensity” of Montana’s “infinitely wise landscape.” But even here, life is not ideal. Dombrowski worries about how he—and the planet—will afford his three children. But after a year teaching in Michigan, he returns to the mountains and a life that may be materially “threadbare,” but that allows him and his children the wisdom that comes only from knowing “places of deep resonant quietude.”

The River You Touch: Making a Life on Moving Water: Making a Life on Moving Water By Chris Dombrowski Cover Image
ISBN: 9781639550630
Availability: In Stock—Click for Locations
Published: Milkweed Editions - October 11th, 2022

Kick the Latch, by Kathryn Scanlan

Staff Pick

Scanlan crafted this narrative from extensive interviews and it meets the definition of “novel” chiefly in the sense of being “new or unusual” in genre, rather than invention of character, plot, or voice. Letting her protagonist speak for herself—possibly literally—this immediate and immediately engaging work is the story of Sonia, who became absorbed in the world of horses at an early age, finding with them the companionship and understanding she missed from people. At 16 she fled her difficult home life for good, embarking on a long career as a trainer. It was a grueling, sometimes brutal life, made of long days, exhausting physical labor, injuries, and, for women, scorn and sexual assault. But Sonia thrived on it, and her monologue takes us into the rich culture and “particular language” of the racetrack, where Humpty Dumpty and Dark Side could name either a horse or a rider, and where, when a horse gallops, “there’s a thousand pounds of pressure held up by that one thin leg, that little hoof the size of a hand-held ashtray.”

Kick the Latch By Kathryn Scanlan Cover Image
ISBN: 9780811232005
Availability: In Stock—Click for Locations
Published: New Directions - September 27th, 2022