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.
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.