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by Amy Leach & illustrated by Nate Christopherson

Pub Date: July 3rd, 2012
ISBN: 978-1-57131-334-8
Publisher: Milkweed

Quirky, poetic essays about elements of the natural world.

This debut collection by Leach, winner of a Whiting Writers' Award and a Pushcart Prize, explores fantastical and curious subjects pertaining to natural phenomena. Her slim volume is divided into two sections—"Things of Earth" and "Things of Heaven”—containing essays with names such as “Goats, and Bygone Goats,” "When Trees Dream of Being Trees" and "Sail On, My Little Honeybee.” Each of the essays range from three to seven pages, and they are accompanied by beautiful, original pen-and-ink drawings by Christopherson. Leach's writing, though cerebral, displays her enormous imagination and attention to detail as she poses and attempts to answer such varied questions as how to transport a wave, or considers the upside of life as a goat. The opening line of "Please Do Not Yell at the Sea Cucumber" demonstrates her direct and casual, slyly funny tone: "One nice thing about having bones is that you don't get rerouted every time you run into something."  The author’s appreciation for absurdity and the joys of wildlife infuses her pieces with a childlike suspension of disbelief; her descriptions strike a balance between imagination and science, with dashes of magical realism, and some of her wording is far more similar to poetry than prose.

The work as a whole, despite its occasional similarities to essays by Thoreau, likely won’t appeal to many general readers, but for those interested in looking at the natural world through the lens of a fairy tale, this is a bonbon of a book.