Things That Are: Encounters with Plants, Stars and Animals is a small but influential book of Amy Leach’s most interesting essays. If you are looking for a novel with a plot and characters in its proper places, you may not like these essays, but this book is for you if you want to revive a whole story in a couple of pages. Leach presents a world from caterpillars to the Sun. If you can keep up with the author’s mind in Things That Are, you may love this world very much.
Things That Are was a book in which I found myself in some paragraphs and got lost in others. But most of all, I liked the sense of wonder and surprise it evoked in me. While I enjoyed reading the epitome of science, I couldn’t help but share the author’s delight in the little things. I should warn you that if you want a simple story, this book is not for you. But if you want to read something different, with no attempt to make sense of the world but rather have fun with it, you’ll love this a lot.
Read Things That Are, if you like it a lot, excellent! And if you don’t, you will read exciting essays. It felt like a fresh breath of air reading this book. I hope you enjoy it too.
Things That Are: Encounters with Plants, Stars and Animals
From the cosmic to the quotidian, this collection of essays by Amy Leach asks us to reconsider our kinship with the wild world.
The debut collection of a writer whose accolades precede her: a Whiting Award, a Rona Jaffe Award, a Best American Essays selection, and a Pushcart Prize, all received before her first book-length publication. This book represents a major break-out of an entirely new brand of nonfiction writer, in a mode like that of Ander Monson, John D’Agata, and Eula Biss, but a new sort of beast entirely its own.
Things That Are takes jellyfish, fainting goats, and imperturbable caterpillars as just a few of its many inspirations. In a series of essays that progress from the tiniest earth dwellers to the most far-flung celestial bodies—considering the similarity of gods to donkeys, the inexorability of love and vines, the relations of exploding stars to exploding sea cucumbers—Amy Leach rekindles a vital communion with the wild world, dormant for far too long. Things That Are is not specifically of the animal, the human, or the phenomenal; it is a book of wonder, one the reader cannot help but leave with their perceptions both expanded and confounded in delightful ways.
Amy Leach is the author of Things That Are. Her work has appeared in numerous literary journals and reviews, including A Public Space, Ecotone, Tin House, and Orion, in addition to Best American Essays and Best American Science and Nature Writing. A graduate of the University of Iowa’s MFA program in creative nonfiction, she has been recognized with the Nautilus Book Award, a Whiting Writers’ Award, and a Rona Jaffe Foundation Award. She plays bluegrass and the piano, teaches English, and lives in Bozeman, Montana.
Reading this book contributed to these challenges: