The Heart of the Sound: An Alaskan Paradise Found and Nearly Lost

Overview

How does one recover from disaster? That question is at the heart of Marybeth Holleman’s lyrical, elegiac response to the repercussions of the Exxon Valdez oil spill, which devastated Alaska’s Prince William Sound in 1989. Intertwining the destruction of an ecosystem, the disintegration of her marriage, and her emerging identity as a new mother, Holleman explores the resiliency of nature—both wild and human—and the ways in which that resiliency is tested. While much of nature writing is about the search for ...
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Overview

How does one recover from disaster? That question is at the heart of Marybeth Holleman’s lyrical, elegiac response to the repercussions of the Exxon Valdez oil spill, which devastated Alaska’s Prince William Sound in 1989. Intertwining the destruction of an ecosystem, the disintegration of her marriage, and her emerging identity as a new mother, Holleman explores the resiliency of nature—both wild and human—and the ways in which that resiliency is tested. While much of nature writing is about the search for an unspoiled landscape, The Heart of the Sound is about what happens when such a place is irrevocably damaged. In language rich with passion and hard-won insight and imbued with descriptions that give voice to the place, Holleman creates a captivating story of a woman who found her Eden in the sweeping fjords of Alaska’s Prince William Sound only to almost lose it to ecological tragedy. Speaking as a witness and survivor, she discovers what it means to love what remains.
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Editorial Reviews

Annie Dillard
“This book has it all: an original, compelling story; lyrical, evocative prose; a clear-eyed and passionate storyteller. It has true transformative power.”—Annie Dillard, author of Pilgrim at Tinker Creek
Janisse Ray
“Beautiful writing about Prince William Sound, like one long love poem . . . a story about a place that breaks your heart, and breaks it again.”—Janisse Ray, author of Ecology of a Cracker Childhood
Nancy Lord
“Part celebration, part quest, part hard-hitting critical debate, The Heart of the Sound floats us into wondrous new territory. In this graceful meditation about love, loss, and learning, Holleman’s prose shimmers like sunlight on clear water.”—Nancy Lord, author of Rock, Water, Wild: An Alaskan Life
David W. Orr
“A love song to one of earth’s loveliest and most threatened places intertwined with human loves, disappointments, and healing. An extraordinary book full of wonder and passion and a courageous story about the heart of Prince William Sound and about sounding the depths of our own hearts.”—David W. Orr, author of Down to the Wire: Confronting Climate Collapse
E Magazine
The Heart of the Sound is one of those rare books that calls to mind a true sense of place.”—E Magazine
The Deseret Morning News
“[Holleman] writes beautifully, poetically, of the need to care for the Earth. It is an environmental masterpiece.”—Deseret Morning News
Annie Dillard
"This book has it all: an original, compelling story; lyrical, evocative prose; a clear-eyed and passionate storyteller. It has true transformative power."

-Annie Dillard, author of Pilgrim at Tinker Creek

Janisse Ray
"Beautiful writing about Prince William Sound, like one long love poem . . . a story about a place that breaks your heart, and breaks it again."

-Janisse Ray, author of Ecology of a Cracker Childhood

Nancy Lord
"Part celebration, part quest, part hard-hitting critical debate, The Heart of the Sound floats us into wondrous new territory. In this graceful meditation about love, loss, and learning, Holleman's prose shimmers like sunlight on clear water."

-Nancy Lord, author of Rock, Water, Wild: An Alaskan Life

David W. Orr
"A love song to one of earth's loveliest and most threatened places intertwined with human loves, disappointments, and healing. An extraordinary book full of wonder and passion and a courageous story about the heart of Prince William Sound and about sounding the depths of our own hearts."

-David W. Orr, author of Down to the Wire: Confronting Climate Collapse

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780803230354
  • Publisher: University of Nebraska Press
  • Publication date: 1/1/2011
  • Pages: 226
  • Sales rank: 1,438,768
  • Product dimensions: 8.50 (w) x 5.50 (h) x 0.52 (d)

Meet the Author

Marybeth Holleman has taught in the creative writing and literary arts department at the University of Alaska Anchorage. She is the editor, with Anne Coray, of Crosscurrents North: Alaskans on the Environment and the author of Alaska’s Prince William Sound: A Traveler’s Guide. She lives in Anchorage.
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Table of Contents

Prologue xi
Part I
Parts Unknown: 1986 3
Duck 16
Locus Amatus: 1986-1988 17
Thunder 29
Part II
Struck: 1989 33
Goat 36
Blood on the Hands: 1989 38
Seas 62
Awakening: 1991 63
Swim 73
Rising Tides: 1993 75
Nellie Juan 81
Storm Warning: 1994 83
Wet 96
Ashes: 1996 97
Observation Point 110
Part III
Fireweed 115
Bull's-Eye: 1996 117
Communicating 127
Restoration: 1997 128
Clouds 143
In This Light: 1997 144
Otter 153
AB Pod: 1997 154
Bear 173
Scars We Notice: 1997-1999 175
Hummingbird 194
Paradise Falls: 1999 195
Epilogue 203
Acknowledgments 207
About the Author 209
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