Environmental Scientist. Writer. Mother.

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The Anxiety of Place

I recently finished reading Kristen Iversen’s book, Full Body Burden, and —even as a person familiar with the toxic secrets of government and industry— found the details of the Rocky …

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Vivian Gornick’s Use of Character in Fierce Attachments

Vivian Gornick’s Fierce Attachments is a coarse, unflinching memoir about the complex relationship between the author and her fierce, judgmental mother — and how the intellectual and emotional clashes between …

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Making Science Read Like a Thriller: Use of Fictional Plot Structure

in Rebecca Skloot’s The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks   Rebecca Skloot’s The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks is an immersive journalism work that reveals the history of the first …

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Terry Tempest Williams’ Refuge: A Lesson in Braided Form

Terry Tempest Williams’ Refuge: An Unnatural History of Family and Place is a touchstone for the use of the natural landscape to tell a human story.  Williams’ book, released in …

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Tracing the DNA of a Story to the Sentence Level: Use of Symbolic Detail in Alfred Kazin’s A Walker in the City

Alfred Kazin’s A Walker in the City is a classic memoir recalling the author’s childhood in Brownsville, the Jewish immigrant neighborhood of Brooklyn, New York in the decade before the …

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Shifting Tense for Dramatic Effect in Mary Karr’s The Liar’s Club

Mary Karr’s The Liar’s Club is a searingly honest, sharp-humored memoir about growing up in a deeply dysfunctional family, in the oil refinery culture of east Texas.  In The Liar’s …

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Using the Cadence of Prose to Heighten Emotional Impact: Meredith Hall’s Without a Map

Meredith Hall’s Without a Map is heartbreaking memoir of a young woman who, upon becoming pregnant at age sixteen, is shunned and betrayed by her loving family and close-knit community.  …

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