Book: Pandora's Garden
Pandora’s Garden: Kudzu, Cockroaches, and Other Misfits of Ecology will be published by the University of Georgia Press in Spring of 2018. The book is thematically linked essays that profile invasive or unwanted species and examines how humans’ treatment of these creatures reveals how we treat ourselves. Part traditional essay, part nature writing, part lyric, the nineteen pieces of literary nonfiction that make up the book are like the biospheres of the globe; each essay succeeds to the next, blending together like ecotones, creating a microcosm of the world in which we sustain nonhuman lives but also contain them.
The book is, on one level, about creatures that humans don’t get along with, but the essays also take on a range of other subjects, including stolen children in Australia, repurposing human violence, the treatment of illegal immigrants in Texas, and the disgust function of the limbic system. When put together, the collection asks, why do the ways we treat nonhuman creatures mirror the ways we treat other people?
Two of the essays from the book have won literary prizes: the Torch Prize from North American Review (judged by Eula Biss) and the Writing Award from Columbia Journal. Other essays in the collection have been published or are forthcoming in Orion, The Southern Review, The Rumpus, Southwest Review, Catapult, The Awl, DIAGRAM, Lake Effect, Iron Horse Literary Review, and Upstreet.
"I see books such as Peters’s as an expression of our Zeitgeist. I have the clear notion Pandora’s Garden is necessary. In an era that some scientists have dubbed the Anthropocene, we need a clear understanding of the persistent power of what we call nature―whether that power is deemed ‘invasive’ or otherwise. Pandora’s Garden is essential reading for anyone who loves a beautiful essay and also for those who seek to learn. Peters's topics are quirky, and his research is strong. He’s that rare breed of self-critical environmentalist, and we need that in order to keep a balanced concern with the environment alive." (BK Loren author of Animal, Mineral, Radical: Essays on Wildlife, Family, and Food)
"The world is changing. Clinton Crockett Peters recognizes that as many species may disappear in the next century as did in the great dinosaur extinction. While that will lead to much despair, Peters argues that this is also a great time to recognize what species will adapt, how humans will appreciate what’s left, and how life, like Kudzu, finds a way. While there is some eulogizing for lost species, there is also celebration of life’s, even a cockroach’s, sweet ability to adjust and survive. The humor, the amount of research, and the way Peters weaves together his personal story with this global one make this not only a unique book but also a playful, engrossing one." (Nicole Walker author of Quench Your Thirst with Salt)
"I find it refreshing that Peters focuses outward, on things in the world independent of the self. What’s more, the writing is a pleasant blend of the clearly informational and the artfully lyrical, which helps with its purpose to get readers thinking not just about the nominal subjects (invasive species), but about people’s treatment of each other. Yet Peters doesn’t preach and doesn’t scold. He gently explores and asks questions. It’s quite a moving book." (Patrick Madden author of Sublime Physick: Essays)
"Clinton Crockett Peters is part of the new breed of environmental writers who are clear-eyed and startling in their reframing of the old, ever-depressing news that we are failing in our duty as caretakers of the planet. His writing is never preachy nor overly earnest. He writes lyrically but authoritatively, as always the clear-eyed observer filled with an elegiac spirit. He will undoubtedly soon be compared to our best writers of nature from Annie Dillard to Barry Lopez to Gretel Ehrlich." (Robin Hemley author of Reply All: Stories)
"Pandora’s Garden is a compelling bestiary of overlooked and misunderstood individuals, from Asian carp to cockroaches, Godzilla to kudzu. Extensively researched and deeply considered, Clint Peters’s debut collection shows us the great emotional range of the oft-dismissed. When you turn the last page, close the cover, and walk out your door, the world you live in will buzz with a new kind of music―fresh tunes that these essays have taught you to hear." (Elena Passarello author of Animals Strike Curious Poses)