Saturday, April 24, 2021

Ten books that make the Earth come alive

Katie Yee is a Brooklyn-based writer and the Book Marks associate editor at Lit Hub.

At Lit Hub she tagged ten books in which the natural world becomes a character. One title on the list:
Madeleine Watts, The Inland Sea

Elsewhere, a man drowned when he was swept away by floodwaters in the Oxley Creek. The Oxley Creek, named in honor of my ancestor, who stoked the fever of belief in like-minded men, the belief that out there in the continent there was water, and that the water would save us all.

This is a novel forged in two elements: fire and water. The oppressive heat is the first thing the narrator notes as she sits in her apartment in Sydney. It’s palpable. Its presence casts a haze across the story. And it’s fitting for the life of a woman who works at an emergency call dispatch center, whose job it is to be dropped into emergencies. Like the heat, the job is jarring at first, but then there comes a moment when it sort of settles into everything; it permeates her life. Madeleine Watts creates a wonderful break in this haze whenever she writes about the water. Our narrator is drawn to it. Her great-great-great-great-grandfather was, after all, a British explorer who ventured into the Australian wilderness in search of water, the eponymous Inland Sea. (He never found it.) But the relief and clarity the presence of water brings is felt in the writing.
Read about another entry on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue