Synopses & Reviews
"You can’t step in the same river twice—although I once believed I could. I believed that the pieces of my life I had chosen, those I held close to my heart, would, once chosen and held, remain the same."—from the book
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 that devastated Alaska’s Prince William Sound in 1989. Twining together the destruction of an ecosystem and the disintegration of her marriage, Holleman explores the resiliency of nature—both wild and human—and the ways in which that resiliency is tested. Like the oil that remains pooled beneath rocks years after the tanker spill, the emotional wounds of the past lie just below the surface. Recovery and restoration from the pain wrought by human hands does not come easily.
If much of nature writing is about the heart’s search for an unspoiled, perfect landscape, The Heart of the Sound is about what happens when the return-to-paradise fantasy is over and paradise is lost. In language rich with passion and hard-won insight, Holleman creates a captivating picture of a woman who found her Eden in the sweeping fjords of Alaska only to lose it to ecological tragedy. But somewhere within that loss, she finds herself.
"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 Earth in Mind
"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
"In this vivid and honest account of love, loss, and allegiance to place, Marybeth Holleman engages troubling questions about human impact on the wild. Ultimately, the ravaged landscapes of Alaska and of her own heart teach her to find joy in impermanence."—Lorraine Anderson, editor of Sisters of the Earth: Women's Prose and Poetry About Nature
"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 Fishcamp: Life on an Alaskan Shore
"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
On the 15th anniversary of the Exxon Valdez oil spill comes one woman's reflections on that devastation and the parallel disintegration of her own marriage. A beautiful evocation of both grief and hope.
About the Author
Marybeth Holleman teaches creative writing, women's studies, and literature at the University of Alaska and has published essays, articles, and poetry in various journals and anthologies.