As you might expect from a writer fluent in cardinal since age six, Nezhukumatathil’s essays are brimming with intimate scenes of natural life, each presented with exuberant prose that mingles scientific exactitude (the stunning pink of the dragon fruit is due to “a rind chock full of lycopene”) with unabashed whimsy (a gray cockatiel is “about three apples tall” and a piece of quartz tastes “like campfire smoke”). As much vivid snapshots as impeccably crafted prose, these brief pieces draw on fable, travel, and memoir to introduce plants and animals ranging from dancing frogs and the impossibly cute smiling axolotl to the more familiar monarch butterfly and flamingo. Linking each creature to the stages of her life--from her childhood as the rare brown person in overwhelmingly white communities, through the loneliness of college, her marriage (to a man who understood the charms of the foul-smelling corpse-flower), motherhood, and career as a teacher and award-winning poet— Nezhukumatathil illuminates the essential bonds between people and the beautiful, singular, awesome—wonderful—flora and fauna we share this planet with. While recognizing the troubles of this divided time, Nezhukumatathil’s first foray into prose is a genuine and whole-heartedly upbeat book.
World of Wonders, by Aimee Nezhukumatathil
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Published: Milkweed Editions - September 8th, 2020