A little birdie tells me that an awesome new anthology of writing edited by Shallot supporter and writer extraordinare Bonnie Tsui will make its way into stores this April. The book is called "A Leaky Tent is a Piece of Paradise," and it will feature an essay by yours truly on tennis courts, their identities as built landscapes, and how they can serve as stages for people to play out social dramas. Want more info?
Here's the catchy description:
Warning: This is not your parents' nature writing! A distinctly contemporary take on the genre, "A Leaky Tent Is a Piece of Paradise" features original essays by twenty gifted writers, all 30 and under, whose strong and diverse voices redefine nature writing for the 21st century. Editor Bonnie Tsui's cast of accomplished contributors wrestle with integrating nature into daily life while putting down roots—often in urban environments. Included here are The New Yorker's Andrea Walker on learning to hunt with her father; noted fishing author and painter James Prosek on the mythology and mystery of eels; writer Hugh Ryan on being taught how to pitch a tent by a six-foot-tall drag queen at a Radical Faeries camp in Tennessee. Other stories are unusual in subject, like Christine DeLucia's meditation on life cycles in Massachusetts's Mount Auburn Cemetery, and Adam Baer's argument that the outdoor tennis court -- carefully constructed as it is in a natural surround -- is the built environment in which is he is allowed to be primeval and, at last, to grow into a man. Theirs and the other writings in this collection illuminate questions about self and place, belonging and rootlessness, and the meeting of created and natural landscapes. Brimming with insight and humor, "A Leaky Tent Is a Piece of Paradise" rewards us with new perspectives on personal identity in relation to nature, and on the impact of landscape and place on our lives.
Want more? How about an excerpt from my piece? Oh, fine, you convinced me.
A tennis court isn’t nature dressed up but nature objectified, manipulated, pounded even by bulldozers and will. .... A tennis court, explicitly manufactured—grass courts don’t look like grass, chain-link fences offer views of what's outside—feels open and closed. You can often see a tennis court's limits and setting at once. It’s an honest construct...A tennis court placed in the outdoors is as much a way to think about your place in the world as it is a space to think about your place in the service box. ...In the end, a tennis court is a metaphor for humankind’s progress and the limits of that progress: it’s a product of the industrial, and yet it’s most useful to people interested in accessing their primal selves... For all of their civility, tennis courts are revelatory, confessional spaces that, in their uncommonly organized nature, expose contradictory elements, forcing powers to struggle with one another or vibrate in rhythm, or both. Tennis courts are like music staffs. Systematic but open to invention, they’re breeding grounds for anomie and communion altars at once—natural imaging centers where you can’t help but submit to a CAT-scan of your spirit.
I've obviously left out all the juicy stuff: the blood and guts, the fights, the sex scenes. Pre-order the whole book for this story and a whole lot more from Bonnie's impressive karass!