The World Is on Fire: Scrap, Treasure, and Songs of Apocalypse

Joni Tevis (Author)


The sermons of Joni Tevis' youth filled her with dread, a sense "that an even worse story--one you hadn't read yet--could likewise come true." In this revelatory collection, she reckons with her childhood fears by exploring the uniquely American fascination with apocalypse. From a haunted widow's 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 she's relating her experience of motherhood or describing the timbre of Freddy Mercury's 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 world--nails and beams, dirt and stone, bones and blood--she 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.

Product Details

$16.00  $14.72
Milkweed Editions
Publish Date
May 19, 2015
5.5 X 1.0 X 8.4 inches | 0.9 pounds
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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, Shenandoah, Gulf Coast, and Orion. She currently teaches literature and creative writing at Furman University in Greenville, SC, where she also lives.


Praise for The World is On Fire

Winner of the 2016 Firecracker Award for Creative Nonfiction

Finalist for the 2016 Pat Conroy Southern Book Prize

"TheThe World is On Fire masterfully questions, rummages, and connects the obscure with the universal, uncovering truths about faith and resurrection we had been waiting for, whether we knew it or not."--Brevity Magazine

"Sharp observations of the leftover and ongoing apocalypses of American culture . . . an idiosyncratic and impressive book."--Ander Monson, the author of Letter to a Future Lover

"This is a whale of a book, bringing us the wonderfullest things from the ends of the earth."--Amy Leach, the author of Things That Are

"The literary equivalent of long exhalations after holding one's breath, a passionate outpouring of description and revelation."--Publishers Weekly

"Tevis rivals Barbara Kingsolver, Rebecca Solnit, John Jeremiah Sullivan, and Terry Tempest Williams."--Foreword Reviews

"Evocative essays on faith, life and wonder. In these lyrical, finely crafted pieces, like poets Gerard Manley Hopkins and Mary Oliver, Tevis sees the natural world imbued with spiritual power."--Kirkus

"Tevis's keen eye takes readers from the steel of scissor blades and the cold waters of Alaska to the fire of atomic bomb testing grounds as seen through a View-Master."--Library Journal

"Fear and wonder, sorrow and resignation. This sounds relentless, too heavy to bear. But Tevis is such a beautiful stylist that I'm willing to follow her anywhere, to feel anything she wants me to. This book is gorgeous, its sentences rhythmic and rambling and reflective."--Bookslut

"Carefully observed and highly crafted essays -- some of the most surprising and original I've read."--Los Angeles Review of Books

Praise for the Author:

"Tevis's writing, a showcase for her interests in religion, memoir, natural study and women's history, is precise and unique." -- Publishers Weekly

"Tevis illuminates the dim corners of memory as she draws attention to the fragile connection between human beings and the mysteries that surround us." -- Diane Wilson

"An innovative young writer deeply immersed in literary tradition." -- Mark Doty