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Biographies & Memoirs - Memoirs Nonfiction - General

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The After-Normal: Brief, Alphabetical Essays on a Changing Planet

ISBN: 9781941628171
Binding: Paperback
Author: David Carlin & Nicole Walker
Pages: 224
Trim: 5.5 x 8 inches
Published: 06/10/2019

"A" is for Australia and "A" is for Arizona, over 9,000 miles apart but sharing the same Earth. In this eccentric, intimate compendium of short environmental and personal essays, David Carlin (in Melbourne) and Nicole Walker (in Flagstaff) engage in a long-distance dialogue between two writers, creating an improvisational subversion of the encyclopedia, a witty-yet-serious send-up of the concept of a survival guide. In this era of interconnected ecological, political, and human rights catastrophes, these two whimsical, elegiac, and intellectually questing voices contemplate the role of the individual in the midst of increasingly inescapable collective action crises that call the very concept of survival into question. Refusing equally to find solace in false hopes and to give in to murky despair, Carlin and Walker deftly use the flash nonfiction form to wonder and worry their way through the alphabet in search of a path forward. With meditations on topics ranging from bitumen to plasmodia, elephants to xeric, The After-Normal: Brief, Alphabetical Essays on a Changing Planet collects an A to Z of people, places, and phenomena to marvel at, to kick against, to let go, and to fight for.


David Carlin is a writer and creative artist based in Melbourne, Australia. He is the author of The Abyssinian Contortionist (2015), and Our Father Who Wasn't There (2010), co-author of 100 Atmospheres: Studies in Scale and Wonder (2019), and the editor, with Francesca Rendle-Short, of an anthology of new Asian and Australian writing, The Near and the Far (2016). His award-winning work includes essays, plays, radio features, exhibitions, documentary, and short films; recent projects include the Circus Oz Living Archive and WrICE. He is a professor of creative writing at RMIT University where he co-directs the non/fictionLab.

Nicole Walker is the author of Sustainability: A Love Story (2018), Where the Tiny Things Are (2017), Egg (2017), Micrograms (2016), Quench Your Thirst with Salt (2013), and This Noisy Egg (2010). She edited the essay collections Science of Story with Sean Prentiss and Bending Genre: Essays on Creative Nonfiction with Margot Singer. She is the recipient of a National Endowment for the Arts award and is a noted author in Best American Essays. She is a professor of English at Northern Arizona University, where she teaches creative writing.


"Hijinks on the page! What is a useful response to the current crisis we now face on this planet—the mounting evidence of anthropogenic climate change? Nicole Walker and David Carlin have elected to do what thinking people do when faced with paralyzing silence and numbness—to seek company and conversation. These short essays, organized around the certain and established road of the Latin alphabet, observe the anomalies, report the weirdness, and respond to each other. They invent, theorize, rage, and celebrate. Each tiny essay in The After-Normal offers a manageable bit of the world that bursts with flavor like a delicately-constructed amuse bouche. Enter this book and discover engagement, communion, and solace." - Debra Marquart, author of The Horizontal World: Growing Up Wild in the Middle of Nowhere

"David Carlin and Nicole Walker's short form alphabetarium is a collection of love letters to each other and to this world. It's an improvisatory survival guide in a perilous age, and an ode to what comes next. Playful and keen-witted, open and inventive, these essays invite us to imagine, not a new normal, but an altogether necessary 'after-normal,' in an atmosphere of grief and wonder, of 'love and change.'" - Mary Capello, author of Life Breaks In: A Mood Almanack

"With the daunting, daring, delightful form of this collage (the art form of this moment and the next moment), Nicole Walker and David Carlin unhinge the jaw of juxtaposition voraciously with The After-Normal to masticate and ruminate on the deliciously disparate and desperate. I am partial to the D's (Dear David, Dear Nicole), Delta, the estuary of change that these abecedarian essays mine, a duet, Hermes and Mercury, coaxing the sacred stolen cattle to walk backwards in their own anti-asemic script, changing the category of dead animal parts (horn and shell and bone) into the category of musical instruments (lute and harp and lyre). In this lyrical conceit of aching anecdote and sympathetic semaphore, yes, the quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog, a quilted, qwerty calibration of our constant collapse, our post-postal decomposed compost of correspondences, these dry-eyed, duff-stratified, death defying dead letters." - Michael Martone, author of The Moon Over Wapakoneta

"In this winning collection of essays cued to letters in the alphabet, writers Carlin (The Abyssinian Contortionist) and Walker (Sustainability: A Love Story) exchange personal reflections on the state of the planet today. [...] Though perhaps thematically scattered, Carlin and Walker's enjoyable literary exchange will charm readers and leave them wondering which topic will pop up next." - Publishers Weekly