Staff Pick

A poet, Purpura argues in these brief, charged essays that it matters what we call things—ants are “whom—not which, not things,” and as such shouldn’t be treated like things. But many things also deserve better: Purpura, a connoisseur of the singular, resists the single-use consumer culture that discards so much that’s still useful. We’re able to waste so much because we’re taught to “not mind”—we don’t see what we’re missing, and often can’t name it, either. Showing us the ants’ complex cities, the eagle that turns a symbol back into a bird, the timing that makes snowshoe rabbits white, the human-like eyelashes of cow #419, Purpura takes us to the “spots no words touched, where language unhinged.” Prose in appearance only, her accounts of intimating, then seeing, a moose; following the decomposition of a bird into a “house framed out, barrel staves, then…the keel of a skiff”; and of being overwhelmed by a crepe myrtle in full, stunning bloom, not only “make something of the moment,” as she continually urges, but make “each moment of seeing be again its own shining grunt of creation,” in which we are “found and rearranged.” These essays will do that to you.

All the Fierce Tethers Cover Image
ISBN: 9781946448309
Availability: In Stock—Click for Locations
Published: Sarabande Books - April 9th, 2019

Staff Pick

“When danger approaches—sing to it,” Hempel advises in the opening story of her virtuoso new collection. In the fourteen startling works that follow, her characters face rising oceans, fracking-induced earthquakes, infanticide, animal abuse, infidelity, and the original evils of snakes and deception. In one piece Hempel shows how we can contain the threats of both a violent history and a frightening future by turning them into museum pieces. In another she focuses on the story—“the one where brutality saves a life”—that a man chooses to tell a woman at a defining point in their relationship. A third uses repetition as a kind of leash on the emotions to recount a heart-wrenching litany of tragedies at a dog shelter. Others trace the emotional fallout of meeting the man responsible for an aunt’s suicide or of learning that the daughter given up for adoption may have suffered an unthinkable fate. Hempel’s work documents the everyday courage of people carrying on their spared lives as best they can before “the proverbial pendulum swings the hell back.” But plot summary can’t convey the true power of this fiction. And Hempel herself isn’t interested in plot; rather, hers is an art of indirection and suggestion, and above all of language so concentrated that she often needs less than a page to convey an entire life.

Sing to It: New Stories Cover Image
ISBN: 9781982109110
Availability: In Stock—Click for Locations
Published: Scribner - March 26th, 2019

Staff Pick

Since discovering in college that “traveling…assuaged something in me,” Lopez has gone all over the world; in his extraordinary memoir he revisits places that have meant the most to him in North and South America, Africa, Australia, and both poles. This is not merely travel writing. As he’s done in previous work, notably his classic Arctic Dreams, Lopez not only writes brilliantly about the natural world, he also reflects on what life really means in particular locales. He considers everything from an anthropological perspective, asking how the earliest native peoples might have experienced their land, sky, and sea, then struggles to do likewise. He combines his insatiable curiosity—which ranges to retracing the paths of Captain Cook and other explorers to joining the Leakeys’ excavations in Africa to helping collect meteorites in Antarctica—with a profoundly moral sensibility, looking to ancient cultures for answers to today’s greatest challenges, especially climate change, violence, and human rights. He deeply believes that the answers are there, and that if we can listen carefully enough to our own and the planet’s past, we can rediscover what the elders of traditional cultures knew: “the wisdom of what works.” If this sounds naïve or superficial, read this book. All Lopez’s ideas are grounded in specific places, and his descriptions of these deserts, seas, jungles, and coasts—and especially his near-mystical experiences while watching flamingos on the Galápagos  and penguins on the Ross Ice Shelf--are heartstoppingly lucid and beautiful, and there’s no better definition of truth than that.

Horizon Cover Image
ISBN: 9780394585826
Availability: In Stock—Click for Locations
Published: Knopf - March 19th, 2019