Synopses & Reviews
The sermons of Joni Tevis youth filled her with dread, a sense that an even worse storyone you hadnt read yetcould likewise come true.” In this revelatory collection, she reckons with her childhood fears by exploring the uniquely American fascination with apocalypse. From a haunted widows wildly expanding mansion, to atomic test sites in the Nevada desert, her settings are often places of destruction and loss.
And yet Tevis transforms these eerie destinations into sites of creation as well, uncovering powerful points of connection. Whether shes relating her experience of motherhood or describing the timbre of Freddy Mercurys voice in Somebody to Love,” she relies on the same reverence for detail, the same sense of awe. And by anchoring her attention to the raw materials of our worldnails and beams, dirt and stone, bones and bloodshe discovers grandeur in the seemingly mundane.
Possessed throughout with eclectic intelligence and extraordinary lyricism, these essays illuminate curiosities and momentous events with the same singular light.
Praise for the Author -
Teviss writing, a showcase for her interests in religion, memoir, natural study and womens history, is precise and unique.” Publishers Weekly
Tevis illuminates the dim corners of memory as she draws attention to the fragile connection between human beings and the mysteries that surround us.” Diane Wilson
An innovative young writer deeply immersed in literary tradition.” Mark Doty
Praise for The World is On Fire
"Because Joni Tevis knows that literatures one great subject is transformation, it's no shock that want burns through every essay in this collection: desire to be somethingor someone elsedesire to be changed, to be delivered from or into love or self or madness. Compound that with her sharp observations of the leftover and ongoing apocalypses of American culture, and you get an idiosyncratic and impressive book. As she says in one essay, "I had been a good girl and am now a safe woman but there was a time between when no one knew my name.” Not any more, Joni Tevis. Not any more."Ander Monson, the author of Letter to a Future Lover
"Much contemporary writing gains its cachet from being dismissive and subtractive. Joni Tevis's essays feel more like music, magnificently wholehearted. Her fascination with the world is as un-selective and infectious as fire, celebrating Liberace and John of Patmos, Boo Boo Burgers and rippled rockfrog lichen. This is a whale of a book, bringing us the wonderfullest things from the ends of the earth."Amy Leach, the author of Things That Are
"Tevis's writing is utterly beautiful and authentically her own, driven by a deep-seated need to share the images that haunt her...the literary equivalent of long exhalations after holding one's breath, a passionate outpouring of description and revelation."Publishers Weekly
"Tevis zealously interrogates emblems of apocalypse: deserts, atomic bombs, and the book of Revelation. This astute essayist notices everything. With these atmospheric, offbeat essays, Tevis rivals Barbara Kingsolver, Rebecca Solnit, John Jeremiah Sullivan, and Terry Tempest Williams."Foreword Reviews
"Evocative essays on faith, life and wonder. In these lyrical, finely crafted pieces, like poets Gerard Manley Hopkins and Mary Oliver, Tevis sees the natural world imbued with spiritual power. "A strange glow marks this seam between life and death," she says. That seam glows fiercely, startlingly bright, in these rich, revelatory essays."Kirkus
Praise for the
Praise for The World is On Fire
"Sharp observations of the leftover and ongoing apocalypses of American culture . . . an idiosyncratic and impressive book."Ander Monson, the author of Letter to a Future Lover
"This is a whale of a book, bringing us the wonderfullest things from the ends of the earth."Amy Leach, the author of Things That Are
"The literary equivalent of long exhalations after holding one's breath, a passionate outpouring of description and revelation."Publishers Weekly
"Tevis rivals Barbara Kingsolver, Rebecca Solnit, John Jeremiah Sullivan, and Terry Tempest Williams."Foreword Reviews
"Evocative essays on faith, life and wonder. In these lyrical, finely crafted pieces, like poets Gerard Manley Hopkins and Mary Oliver, Tevis sees the natural world imbued with spiritual power."Kirkus
"Teviss keen eye takes readers from the steel of scissor blades and the cold waters of Alaska to the fire of atomic bomb testing grounds as seen through a View-Master."Library Journal
Praise for the
Grappling with a fear rooted in her by the end times sermons of her Southern youth, Joni Tevis seeks out apocalypse, destruction, and their aftermath in this heart-wrenching, but ultimately triumphant collection. Mining sources as disparate as the Bible and nuclear history, Tevis couples seemingly unrelated phenomena to reveal deeper meaning: reflections on Buddy Holly's last days lead to the Doom Town, where the American government tested the effects of nuclear weapons on suburban populations. Liberaces last days are juxtaposed with the entertainment complex the military built around weapons testing. Relating her own experience of childbirth to an Italian medical museum and ANWR, she explores both creating and losing life in a world freighted with danger.
Throughout, Tevis brings a new sense of wonder to the objects and phenomena surrounding us, guiding the reader through a subtle arc from dread to acceptance, of the cycles of death and rebirth that rule our lives, even when we resist them.
About the Author
Formerly a park ranger, factory worker, and seller of cemetery plots, Joni Tevis
is currently the author of the acclaimed book of essays, The Wet Collection
, described by Mark Doty as a delightful and deeply satisfying book,” was a finalist for the Minnesota Book Award. Her work has been published in Oxford American
, Bellingham Review
, Gulf Coast
, and Orion
. She currently teaches literature and creative writing at Furman University in Greenville, SC, where she also lives.