Fourteen unforgettable short stories provoke, illuminate, and startle as they explore our perception of nature and the conflict between wildness and civilization within each of us. As we are recognizing the consequences of the destruction of forests and wetlands, the pillaging of the seas, and the toxicity of industry, we are experiencing profound uncertainty about our relationship with the earth. These stellar short stories by writers such as Barry Lopez, Rick Bass, Margaret Atwood, E.
L. Doctorow, Chris Offutt, and others plumb the mystery – as only fiction can – of nature within us and the world of nature that surrounds us. We are nature, in spite of our machines, our plastics, and our artificial ingredients.
Yet what do we make of our own nature? Our own wildness? And how do we explain the paradox of our urge to both exploit and protect wilderness? From E. L. Doctorow’s shattering tale, “”Willi,”” in which a young boy witnesses adults transformed into animals by the frenzy of sexual lust, to Rick Bass’s “”Swamp Boy,”” whose young hero is hounded by a pack of boys incensed by his solitary communion with the wild, to Margaret Atwood’s wickedly funny story, “”My Life as a Bat,”” or Kent Meyers’s soulful ballad of love regained, “”The Heart of the Sky,”” these memorable stories articulate our deep need for wilderness and the indelible role nature plays in our psychological and spiritual well-being.
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