*Longlisted for the 2019 PEN/E.O. Wilson Literary Science Writing Award
*Shortlisted for the 2019 New England Society Book Awards in the Specialty Title Category
*Junior Library Guild 2018 Gold Standard Selection
About Seaweed Chronicles:
"Shetterly...wades through muck and crawls through poison ivy to spy on the myriad species that share the intertidal zone: sandpipers, petrels, periwinkles, brine shrimp. All depend, for some part of their lives, on the rockweed for food or shelter. Shetterly writes in the tradition of Rachel Carson, who meticulously described this coast and its seaweeds in The Edge of the Sea (1955). While Carson cataloged rich biodiversity, Shetterly’s story is one of loss, uncertainty, and invasive green crabs....
She tramps through the human ecosystem as well, visiting kelp farms and interviewing economists, ecologists, and marine policymakers. Anyone who has ever dipped a toe into New England fisheries knows how contentious, and wickedly complex, any discussion of marine extraction can become, and Shetterly is a circumspect but sensitive guide." - Lucy Jakub, "The Oldest Forest," The New York Review of Books (click for full text).
"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
"Shetterly folds human stories into the wild ones, lifting each new strand to join the others as in a French braid, pulled tight and practical like the community of weathered Mainers itself.... Shetterly's spare, lyrical prose depicts the essence and detail of people, wildlife, seaweed, and sea so that they stay with me long after I close the book." - Orion Magazine (click for full text)
"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