Monday, November 13, 2017

Kali Wallace

Kali Wallace, for most of her life, was going to be a scientist when she grew up. She studied geology in college, partly because she could get course credit for hiking and camping, and eventually earned a PhD in geophysics researching earthquakes in India and the Himalayas. Only after she had her shiny new doctorate in hand did she admit that she loved inventing imaginary worlds as much as she liked exploring the real one.

Wallace's new novel is The Memory Trees.

Recently I asked the author about what she was reading. Her reply:
These days I find myself usually reading more than one book at a time, most often some thick, meaty nonfiction that takes me weeks to finish alongside several pieces of fiction.

On the fiction side of things, I just finished a pair of novellas by Sarah Gailey, River of Teeth and Taste of Marrow. In the late 19th century, the U.S. government came up with a plan to import hippopotamuses into Louisiana swamps to breed for meat. The plan was real, but it was never carried out in real life. In a stunning example of "I am so jealous I didn't think of that" creativity, Gailey imagines that the infamous and utterly terrible Hippo Plan was enacted, and the result is a fast-paced, rollicking, wild west-by-way-of-the-deep south kind of historical adventure tale full of greed and vengeance and a little bit of romance, with a diverse cast of likeably shady characters led by--obviously--a dashing hippo wrangler. Obviously. Who else?

Both novellas are delightful, fun, a bit silly but still heartfelt, and have succeeded in giving me a deeply entrenched fear of being killed by a rampaging feral hippopotamus.

On the nonfiction side, I've reading about an altogether different sort of massive mammal and its place in American history: Leviathan: The History of Whaling in America by Eric Jay Dolin. Learning about the history of whaling is one of my stranger habits, the sort of habit I refer to as "research" in polite company, but really I do just because it's fascinating. As of right now I've only just begun the book, so we're still at the stage of early American colonies having legal fights over who has the right to beached whales, but I know that things are going to get rather more exciting--and a great deal more brutal--very soon.
Visit Kali Wallace's website.

--Marshal Zeringue