Embrace Fearlessly the Burning World: Essays by Barry Lopez |
The Boston Globe

Barry Lopez won the National Book Award in 1986 for his monumental nonfiction work Arctic Dreams. His 2019 book Horizon found its way onto numerous best-of-the-year lists. When he died in December 2020, laudatory obituaries compared him to Thoreau and referred to his writing as “landmark.”

Despite these accolades, Lopez has not received the critical reception he truly deserves. To begin with, most of the obits focused on his nature writing, which, while understandable, excludes his fiction (of which he published eleven volumes), but most significantly, the artistry of his essays. His final collection of essays, Embrace Fearlessly the Burning World, should remind readers just how wide-ranging, artful, and deeply personal his writing could be. Continue reading…


The Red Arrow by William Brewer |
L.A. Times

In his provocative 1991 book Art & Physics: Parallel Visions in Space, Time, and Light, Leonard Shlain notes that although his subjects make for “a strange coupling,” fundamentally they “are both investigations into the nature of reality.” William Brewer’s debut novel, The Red Arrow, adds another pairing to his matrix: depression and psychedelics.

The premise of The Red Arrow sounds like the high-concept picaresque narratives of Thomas Pynchon or Neal Stephenson: A debt-ridden painter-turned-writer accepts a job as a ghostwriter for a world-renowned physicist who vanishes before the writer can finish the book. Desperate to escape his debts and plagued by a suicidal depression he refers to as “the Mist,” the unnamed writer undergoes a treatment of psilocybin, the active ingredient in magic mushrooms. Most of this information is provided to the reader in the first few pages. We meet the narrator as he’s on his way to find the Physicist (name redacted per their contract) aboard Italy’s Frecciarossa (“Red Arrow”) train. Along the way, the writer describes his financial failures, his strained relationship with his wife, Annie, and his life-changing new treatment. Continue reading…

A Very Particular Order | Columbus Monthly

On a chilly autumn day in 2020, I stood in front of Karen Wickliff Books in Clintonville, anxious and depressed, pounding on its glass door. Any passerby who saw me must have thought me a menacing figure. In fact, I was desperate.

There were times for me during the pandemic, as for all of us, when the ache of isolation and upended normality crescendoed into an intense need for some semblance of comfort. This particular afternoon was a real doozy; my anxiety had reached panic levels, and my depression hummed just underneath. So I drove to North High Street, parked right in front of the store and pulled the door handle—only to find it locked. Continue reading…