Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Alan Weisman

Alan Weisman's writing has appeared in Harper's, the New York Times Magazine, the Atlantic Monthly, the Los Angeles Times Magazine, Orion, Audubon, Mother Jones, Discover, Condé Nast Traveler, Resurgence, and in several anthologies (including The Best American Science Writing 2006).

His new book is The World Without Us (Thomas Dunne Books).

Recently, I asked him what he was reading. His reply:
For the past two years, I was solely, obsessively occupied by reading research material for The World Without Us, and now I'm finally gorging on books that piled up in the interim: dessert tempting me after a long, laborious meal. Although I'm a journalist, I read fiction constantly to feed my narrative skills, and the first thing I turned to when I was finally free of edits was John Gregory Dunne's final novel, Nothing Lost. Alternately dark and hilarious, it is masterful: unfortunately, what in fact is now lost is an incomparable voice following his unexpected death, profoundly memorialized in his wife Joan Didion's staggering The Year of Magical Thinking.

I followed that with a lovely and surprising novel, The World to Come, by Dara Horn.

Currently I'm finishing Bill McKibben's Deep Economy, which should be required reading for the entire western (and eastern) world, not just for economists. McKibben writes with such clarity and humanity that you come away truly understanding how civilization, and the money that lubricates it, can and should work.

I've also finally gotten to read Michael Pollan's delightful Botany of Desire.

Next on my list is Paul Hawken's new book Blessed Unrest, suggested by Barry Lopez as one of the most important and most overlooked books of 2007. Then I'll need another novel, so suggest away.
Publishers Weekly on The World Without Us: "If a virulent virus — or even the Rapture — depopulated Earth overnight, how long before all trace of humankind vanished? That's the provocative, and occasionally puckish, question posed by Weisman ... in this imaginative hybrid of solid science reporting and morbid speculation.... Weisman's enthralling tour of the world of tomorrow explores what little will remain of ancient times while anticipating, often poetically, what a planet without us would be like."

Read more about The World Without Us and learn more about Alan Weisman and his work.

--Marshal Zeringue