Sweet Earth Book Club (Second Tuesdays)--THE NATURE BOOK

Tuesday, February 13, 2024 - 6:00pm

Sweet Earth Book Club members read a variety of genres including nonfiction, fiction, poetry and memoir, on topics related or adjacent to nature and our earth. Book club books are 15% off at Yardstick. Sweet Earth meets every SECOND TUESDAY of the month, 6pm at Yardstick Books (317 Steele Street, Algoma).

PART SWEEPING EVOCATION OF EARTH’S RHYTHMS, PART LITERARY ARCHIVE, PART POST-HUMAN NOVEL, THE NATURE BOOK COLLAGES DESCRIPTIONS OF THE NATURAL WORLD INTO A SINGULAR SYMPHONIC PAEAN TO THE PLANET.

What does our nature writing say about us, and more urgently, what would it say without us? Tom Comitta investigates these questions and more in The Nature Book, a “literary supercut” that arranges writing about the natural world from three hundred works of fiction into a provocative re-envisioning of the novel. With fiction’s traditional background of flora and fauna brought to the fore, people and their structures disappear, giving center stage to animals, landforms, and weather patterns—honored in their own right rather than for their ambient role in human drama. The Nature Book challenges the confines of anthropocentrism with sublime artistic vision, traversing mountains, forests, oceans, and space to shift our attention toward the magnificently complex and interconnected world around us.

In a preface, Comitta describes their methodology for creating this dizzying environmental collage: “I have gathered nature descriptions from three hundred novels and arranged them into a single novel.” At the end, Comitta lists the 300 novels they scavenge, which range from Philip K. Dick’s Maze of Death to William Faulkner’s Absalom, Absalom! The book is divided into four parts along thematic lines—“The Four Seasons,” “The Deep Blue Sea,” “The Void,” and “The Endless Summer.” Initially, the descriptions of the natural world read like a kind of Creation story: “At about the same time, the days grew short and the nights grew long. The light a little less each time. Dark at half past seven. Dark at quarter past seven, dark at seven.” Occasionally, these scenes of nature are punctuated by conflict: sometimes conflict between animals, such as a beaver and an otter, while at other times the environment itself turns hostile—an early sequence in which a storm leaves several pheasants injured or dead is especially haunting. This is also, notably, a landscape without humans. The narrative voice is both omniscient and prone to metaphor, as in this evocative description of the onset of winter: “It was happening again: the end of the world.” Footnotes change the tone and allow for moments of wry humor: “The wolves were bad that winter, and everyone knew it.” This novel sometimes feels like a work of installation art, and Comitta’s author’s note describing their methodology in assembling it is fascinating, revealing the patterns and processes underlying the book.

From The New Yorker: https://www.newyorker.com/.../searching-for-unfamiliar...

Please check FB and Yardstick's website for information about upcoming titles.
March 12: FINDING THE MOTHER TREE by Suzanne Simard
April 9: ONCE THERE WERE WOLVES by Charlotte McConaghy (fiction)
May 14: AN IMMENSE WORLD by Ed Yong
June 11: THE WATER KNIFE by Paolo Bacigalupi (thriller)
July 9: THE SOUND OF A WILD SNAIL EATING by Elizabeth Tova Bailey (memoir)
August 13: OWLS AND OTHER FANTASIES by Mary Oliver (poetry and essay) 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Tom Comitta is the author of 〇Airport Novella, and First Thought Worst Thought: Collected Books 2011–2014, a print and digital archive of forty “night novels,” art books, and poetry collections. Comitta’s fiction and essays have appeared in WIRED, Lit Hub, Electric Literature, the Los Angeles Review of Books, the Believer, BOMB, and Best American Experimental Writing 2020. They live in Brooklyn.

Event address: 
Yardstick Books
317 Steele Street
Algoma, WI 54201-1266
Books: 
The Nature Book By Tom Comitta Cover Image
$17.95
ISBN: 9781566896634
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Coffee House Press - March 14th, 2023