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SEAWEED CHRONICLES

 About Seaweed Chronicles:

 "You might not expect unfettered passion on the topic of seaweed, but Shetterly is such a great storyteller that you find yourself following along eagerly." 

 - Mark Kurlansky, author of Cod: A Biography of the Fish That Changed the World

 "Shetterly's elegant, attentive look at algae...examines the important part seaweed plays in a web of existence of a number of other species.... Shetterly highlights the poetry and drama of the interrelation of things...." - The Boston Globe

 "A call, not to turn back the clock, but to live deliberately and take stock of the things we don't want to lose." - Wall Street Journal (click for full text)

 "Riveting...a lyrical and timely chronicle." - BBC Culture

 "A lovely, first-person consideration of the diaphanous organisms--and an evaluation of their environmental history and promise: a carbon-absorbing environmental superhero, macro-algae biofuel may fuel your VWs and Hondas in the future, to boot."  - Vogue 

"A measured, wise little book." - Portland Press Herald

"Shetterly dives into the world of iconic algae and the societies and ecosystems that depend upon it...." - The Revelator

"There are books that change the way you see things.... "Seaweed Chronicles" is a fascinating portrait of this valuable, increasingly threatened resource and a passionate plea for its wise management." - The Washington Post (click for full text)

"Lessons From Seaweed" by Mark W. Anderson, Bangor Daily News (full text below) 

"Most Mainers know something about seaweed, some of what they know might even be true.  My mother sang the praises of dulse in her diet, though I recall that she rarely ate it.  My father used what we called rockweed from the shores of Penobscot Bay to enrich his vegetable garden.  R.P.T. Coffin describes the treat of a “…sea-moss farina pudding” in November of his Coast Calendar.  Seaweed is woven into the culture of Maine.

Susan Hand Shetterly really does know a lot about seaweed, and her new book Seaweed Chronicles is captivating, a book every Mainer should read.  Maine has a tradition of engaging fiction writers who interpret life here to the larger world.  When it comes to non-fiction, Maine is linked to two profoundly important writers of the 20thCentury, E.B. White and Rachel Carson.  Shetterly’s new work reminds me of both.

In The Elements of Style White admonishes us to “avoid unnecessary words.”  In Seaweed Chronicles every word counts.  There is a sparse, crystalline quality to Shetterly’s writing, evoking the very coastline she describes.  In the tradition of Rachel Carson, Seaweed Chronicles is a cautionary tale.  She weaves stories of the people from Maine’s coastal communities with science that should inform our exploitation of the bounties of nature.  The book is, at the same time, both authentically Maine, and deeply learned.

The book makes me think of the idea of home.  The ancient Greek word for home (or household or family) is Oikos.  This is the root for two English words at the heart of Shetterly’s book, ecology and economics.  Seaweed Chronicles exemplifies both the first law of ecology and the first law of economics:

  • Everything is connected to everything else
  • There is no such thing as a free lunch

In our exploitation of Maine’s seemingly abundant marine resources, we have ignored both of these laws, at our peril.  By viewing the natural world as individual buckets we can draw from (the cod fishery, for example), we ignore the complex interactions of ecosystems with many parts and violate the first law of ecology.  By viewing that same natural world as a gift, available to the first person who figures out how to exploit nature best, we violate the first law of economics.

Seaweed Chronicles makes clear that both of these laws hold, even when we choose to ignore them.  This is a book that is both a delight to read and profoundly important too.  We all need pay attention."

*Selected among the top ten "smartest beach reads" for 2018 by BBC Culture

*Selected among the best new eco-books in August by the Center for Biological Diversity

 

SETTLED IN THE WILD 

     *2018 Read ME selection for Nonfiction (Maine Humanities Council and Maine State Library)

2011 Maine Literary Award for Best Nonfiction Book (Maine Writers & Publishers Alliance)

     * Click to read an excerpt  

     * Buy SITW Online: IndieboundAmazonPowell´s,                        Barnes & Noble

 

About Settled In the Wild:

 "Shetterly is a writer whose precise eye is directly connected not just to a quicksilver mind but also a good, generous heart. Her prose is spare, elegant, rich in metaphor, and haunting." 

  - Richard Russo, author of That Old Cape Magic

"With this tender and tough book, Shetterly creates an offering of native awareness that deserves to be placed alongside Aldo Leopold, Marjorie Stoneman Douglas, and Noel Perrin, all writers of community, insight and resolve." 

  Terry Tempest Williams, author of Finding Beauty in a Broken World

“There is magic in the way Shetterly has proceeded into her life---with daily awe and hunger---and there is generosity, eloquence, and great intelligence in this telling. Settled in the Wild is a lovely book, beautiful and enchanting, ocean-deep with the revelatory powers of discovery.”

  Rick Bass, author of Why I Came West

"With wisdom and leavening humor, Susan Hand Shetterly tells tales of a small town and the woods around it, of her family and neighbors, two-legged and four, of the sound of wind and the cacophony of silence." 

  Richard Louv, author of Last Child in the Woods

"Settled in the Wild draws a beautiful portrait of life lived in utter harmony with the natural world - life as it ought to be lived."

- Alice Waters

"What a beautiful little book. It reads like you're listening to water flowing over stones. Shetterly writes with great detail and understanding, and you feel immersed in her world." 

- Lynne Cox, author of Swimming to Antartica


Interview

Listen to an interview with Susan on the Christian Science Monitor

 

Publishers WeeklyStarred Review

“I live on land that has not surrendered the last of its wildness," Shetterly (The New Year's Owl: Encounters with Animals, People and the Land They Share) writes of her home in rural Maine. “It keeps secrets, and those secrets prompt us to pay attention, to look for more." In her first essay collection in more than 20 years, she beautifully renders some of what she's learned in the decades since she and her then husband moved into an unfinished cabin “idealistic, dangerously unprepared, and, frankly, arrogant", she can see now. Most of these essays, however, focus on life after she's settled in, when she's learned to listen for the sounds of the coming spring through her open bedroom window or impulsively stands down a bobcat that's chased a baby rabbit into the middle of the road. Shetterly's eye for poetic detail is exquisite, especially in longer essays such as the story of how she nursed an injured raven back to health, after which it set up home on her roof and became best friends with her terrier. But she writes about her neighbors (even those she admits she never really knew) with equal grace and empathy. Let's hope it's not another quarter-century before her next collection arrives. 

Booklist Review

Indelible images abound in Shetterly's stellar collection of distinctive and revelatory essays about her life spent in and along Maine's rugged woods and coasts. A wounded garter snake is delicately placed in her coat pocket and nursed back to health in a soup pot. A blinded raven cavorts with her pet dog in a primal dance that prepares it for its return to the wild. While ice creeps and mud seeps, Shetterly waits and watches with the patience and passion of a natural-born naturalist. Nor is her precisely trained eye focused only on the life that teems in the skies and seas around her. People, too, are cause for consideration: the fisherman who encounters whales and swordfish; the garbage collector who repairs what others reject. Shetterly's penetrating observations resonate with an undeniable sense of what matters most in life: the preservation of self, the protection of wilderness, and appreciation for the passage of time in a world where speed, haste, and destruction trump leisure, care, and restoration.  - Carol Haggas