The World Is on Fire: Scrap, Treasure, and Songs of Apocalypse (Paperback)

Scrap, Treasure, and Songs of Apocalypse

By Joni Tevis

Milkweed Editions, 9781571313478, 256pp.

Publication Date: May 19, 2015

May 2015 Indie Next List

“Peopled by both the famous and the forgotten, The World Is on Fire is a love letter to our fears and fascinations as a species. It travels delicate and complicated terrain-faith, loss, death, and infertility are just a few of its subjects-and its intimacy is devastating but also comforting. Tevis acts as a grand conductor, allowing cultural touch points, history, personal narrative, and the natural world to each have their turn, then orchestrating them together into a melody that is lovely, sometimes amusing, and often haunting. These 'songs' stayed with me long after the last note.”
— Lauren Harr, Malaprop's Bookstore/Cafe, Asheville, NC
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The sermons of Joni Tevis youth filled her with dread, a sense that an even worse storyone you hadn t read yetcould likewise come true. In this revelatory collection, she reckons with her childhood fears by exploring the uniquely American fascination with apocalypse. From a haunted widow's wildly expanding mansion, to atomic test sites in the Nevada desert, her settings are often places of destruction and loss.
And yet Tevis transforms these eerie destinations into sites of creation as well, uncovering powerful points of connection. Whether she's relating her experience of motherhood or describing the timbre of Freddy Mercury's voice in Somebody to Love, she relies on the same reverence for detail, the same sense of awe. And by anchoring her attention to the raw materials of our worldnails and beams, dirt and stone, bones and bloodshe discovers grandeur in the seemingly mundane.
Possessed throughout with eclectic intelligence and extraordinary lyricism, these essays illuminate curiosities and momentous events with the same singular light.

About the Author

Formerly a park ranger, factory worker, and seller of cemetery plots, Joni Tevis is currently the author of the acclaimed book of essays, "The Wet Collection," described by Mark Doty as a delightful and deeply satisfying book, was a finalist for the Minnesota Book Award. Her work has been published in "Oxford American," "Bellingham Review," "Shenandoah," "Gulf Coast," and "Orion." She currently teaches literature and creative writing at Furman University in Greenville, SC, where she also lives.