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Cover for The After-Normal

The After-Normal

Brief, Alphabetical Essays on a Changing Planet

David Carlin, Nicole Walker


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Literary Nonfiction. Essays. Environmental Studies. Hybrid Genre. Abecedarian Form. Epistolary Form. Collaborative Writing. 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.

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

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 Cappello

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

In this winning collection of essays cued to letters in the alphabet, writers Carlin and Walker exchange personal reflections on the state of the planet today. ...] Carlin and Walker's enjoyable literary exchange will charm readers and leave them wondering which topic will pop up next.--Publishers Weekly

Rose Metal Press, 9781941628171, 224pp.

Publication Date: June 11, 2019