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Jack PendarvisAnn Pancake's fine, ambitious first novel is about something simple: what it's like to live below a mountaintop-removal strip mine. As one family negotiates the Vesuvian landscape of their wrecked hollow, its natural defenses against flooding uprooted and trashed, readers may think of the aftermath of Katrina, another man-made disaster. But until the book dips into explicit activism, this tragedy seems less the work of greedy businessmen than of a terrible old god…Pancake—she is a distant relative of the short-story writer Breece D'J Pancake—makes her point in Strange as This Weather Has Been in a powerful, sure-footed and haunting way: People aren't dirt. But they know when they're being treated like dirt, whether in the Lower Ninth Ward or the hills of West Virginia.
—The New York Times