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LIVE ON CROWDCAST: BEN EHRENREICH discusses his new book DESERT NOTEBOOKS with ANTHONY MCCANN


*Please note: This event will take place on Crowdcast. RSVP here to save your spot!

Desert Notebooks: A Road Map For The End Of Time (Counterpoint Press)

National Magazine Award winner and The Nation columnist Ben Ehrenreich layers climate science, mythologies, nature writing, and personal experiences into a stunning reckoning with our current moment and with the literal and
figurative end of time. Desert Notebooks examines how the unprecedented pace of destruction to our environment and an increasingly unstable geopolitical landscape have led us to the brink of a calamity greater than any humankind has confronted before. As inhabitants of the Anthropocene, what might some of our own histories tell us about how to confront apocalypse? And how might the geologies and ecologies of desert spaces inform how we see and act toward time—the pasts we have erased and paved over, this anxious present, the future we have no choice but to build? Ehrenreich draws on the stark grandeur of the desert to ask how we might reckon with the uncertainty that surrounds us and fight off the crises that have already begun.

In the canyons and oases of the Mojave and in Las Vegas’s neon apocalypse, Ehrenreich finds beauty, and even hope, surging up in the most unlikely places, from the most barren rocks, and the apparent emptiness of the sky. Desert Notebooks is a vital and necessary chronicle of our past and our present—unflinching, urgent—and yet timeless and profound.

Praise for Desert Notebook:

"These are the kind of conversations we need to be having--with ourselves and with others. And the desert seems like the right austere setting to be having them. These fine essays take a deep tradition in American writing and extend it into our uncertain and collapsing present." --Bill McKibben, author of Falter and The End of Nature

"An urgent plea to revise our relationship to the planet, each other, and time . . . Lyrical, freshly observed . . . Well-informed and -rendered, passionate reflections on humanity's prospects." --Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

"Ehrenreich creates a beautiful meditation on adapting to future cataclysm." --Publishers Weekly

"It's been a long time since I read anything as exciting and illuminating as Ben Ehrenreich's superb new book, Desert Notebooks: A Road Map for the End of Time. Very few writers have addressed the current planetary crisis as powerfully and insightfully as Ehrenreich does. The book is extraordinary as much for the rigor of its thinking as for the manner of its writing; its form both narrates and performs the crisis, while also exploring its antecedents. It is, among other things, a remarkable venture in intellectual history, especially in its juxtaposition of the pre-Columbian mythologies of the Americas with the post-Enlightenment mythologies of progress that remade the continents." --Amitav Ghosh

"Ehrenreich's Mojave is both eternal and despoiled, a measuring rod for the apocalypse, and proof that nature abides. Progress, he explains to us, is like one of those strange paved streets in the desert running through phantom, unbuilt subdivisions. The pavement ends abruptly, and we find ourselves lost in the furnace-hot badlands of the Present where time and meaning are twisted into enigmatic and terrifying forms that recall the end-time visions of cultures vanquished by 'civilization.' This haunting meditation on terminal capitalism and its unthinkable future clearly establishes its author as one of our greatest essayists, wholly contemporary with these strange times." --Mike Davis, author of City of Quartz

"The past few years of an accelerated, increasingly destructive climate crisis have brought a number of books that struggle to respond accordingly to a crisis of such magnitude; several writers have met this existential challenge with an equally existential discussion of the ways that the climate crisis affects our understanding of human history and time itself. Ben Ehrenreich, a columnist for The Nation, takes this discussion to the American southwest, examining the intersection of science, mythology, and landscape in the desert, in particular in Joshua Tree and Las Vegas. In these settings, Ehrenreich's book reflects on the ways that the prospect of extinction has affected our understanding of time, and how we use that shift in perspective as we move forward." --Corinne Segal, Literary Hub, One of the Most Anticipated Books of the Year

"Ehrenreich combines climate science, nature writing, personal essay, and storytelling to create a book that examines the current geopolitical landscape, and the potential for disaster. That being said, this is not a depressing or book that promotes catastrophizing--just the opposite. He looks at history, at the land, at science, to guide us to help fight the climate crisis. While it doesn't shy away from the dire situation we are in, above all, this is a hopeful book. It is how we go forward." --Jaime Herndon, Book Riot, 1 of 9 of the Best Nonfiction Books about Nature and Climate Change

"The crisis humanity faces is total. It's planetary. It's a crisis in space and also in time. How close are we to the end? Is this land we stand on going to be inhabitable in one hundred years, sixty, forty? In sharply featured, compelling prose--the landscape writing here has the heartbreaking clarity of the experience of desert light--Ben Ehrenreich's stunning Desert Notebooks combs through history, literature, myth, physics, and ecology to understand how we got here, and how we might find our way out, into forms of time that are made not of our thralldom to capital and petroleum but of our relationships to each other, to our fellow creatures, to plants and rocks and landscapes, and to the stars and sun and moon overhead. Ben Ehrenreich wants you to join him here, on earth. The thrill of Desert Notebooks is that in its lucid pages such a miracle seems almost possible." --Anthony McCann, author of Shadowlands

Ben Ehrenreich writes about climate change for The Nation. His work has appeared in Harper'sThe New York Times Magazine, and The Los Angeles Times. He has reported from Afghanistan, Haiti, Cambodia, El Salvador, and Mexico. In 2011, he was awarded a National Magazine Award. He is the author of The Way to the Spring: Life and Death in Palestine, one of The Guardian's Best Books of 2016.

Anthony McCann is the author of four collections of poetry including Thing Music (Wave Books, 2014). His book Shadowlands: Fear and Freedom at the Oregon Standoff (Bloomsbury, 2019), a nonfiction prose work investigating the 2016 armed right-wing occupation of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge, was a Los Angeles Times Bestseller, a finalist for the Reading the West Book Award, and is currently a finalist for the California Book Award. He teaches in the Creative Writing MFA and the School of Critical Studies at the California Institute of the Arts. Anthony lives in the Mojave Desert.

Event date: 
Tuesday, July 21, 2020 - 6:30pm
Event address: 
1818 N Vermont Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90027
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