Dirt Stories and Field Notes
Wayne State University Press, Paperback, 9780814333747, 163pp.
Publication Date: March 10, 2008
Trespassing is composed in equal amounts of short fiction and essays that illustrate the impact of modern factory farms-confined animal feeding operations (CAFOs)-on a rural Michigan community. Michigan author Janet Kauffman debunks the myth of the idyllic "clip art" farm of decades past by giving readers a close-up look at mega-meat and mega-milk, the extreme amounts of animal waste and barren countryside CAFOs produce, and the people who live in the midst of this new rural landscape threatened by agricultural sprawl. Trespassing considers the consequences of violating nature's limits, giving readers a vivid impression of the irreversible damage that violation causes to our habitat.
The writings in Trespassing range from ground-level realism to hallucinatory surrealism, from mindful discussion to poetic incantation, from vehicles of outrage to portraits of grief. The rural landscape includes a range of characters, and Kauffman's stories and essays are populated with CAFO owners, immigrant workers, neighbors mired in pollution, greenhouse growers, environmental activists, water monitors, drain commissions, and agency officials. As a resident of rural Michigan and part of a farming family herself, Kauffman approaches the subject matter with a sensitive and informed eye. Her detailed writings take readers into this landscape of modern rural communities to experience the smells, sounds, and sights of a brutally changed world.
Those interested in environmental issues, as well as fellow Michiganders, and fans of creative fiction and nonfiction will appreciate this moving and informative collection.