The Book of Unconformities: Speculations on Lost Time
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About the Author
Hugh Raffles is the author of Insectopedia, which was a New York Times Notable Book and received the Orion Book Award and the Ludwik Fleck Prize of the Society for Social Studies of Science, and of In Amazonia: A Natural History which received the Victor Turner Prize in Ethnographic Writing. His essays have appeared in Best American Essays, Granta, Orion, and The New York Times, and he is the recipient of the Whiting Award for nonfiction. He lives in New York City and is professor of anthropology at The New School.
"Poetic . . . Each section is packed with vivid entertaining tales . . . The text shimmers with rangy curiosity, precise pictorial descriptions, well-narrated history, a sympathetic eye for the natural world, and a deft, light scholarly touch." (Starred review)
"In a high-voltage jolt of insight, Mr. Raffles converts what might seem a dry scientific concept into a potent literary metaphor to help anyone whose sense of time has been fractured by loss . . . [The Book of Unconformities] is so rich in erudition and prose-poetry that I read it like a glutton, tearing off big bites of lost time until I was sated . . . A poignant and healing descent into deep time and its relevance to the human experience."
--Wall Street Journal
The Book of Unconformities is, in an entirely seductive and moving way, the most genre-bending book I've ever read. I've been unable to stop talking about this book all fall. And I've learned so much. Only Sebald's innovations struck me this wildly. Raffles takes a pair of devastating personal events along with him on an epic tour of the eccentricities and earth-shattering consequences of how and where we live with stone on this planet. I think of Robert Smithson's monumental projects in tandem with this book because this too is a monumental act of mourning, invoking the multitudinous worshipful and destructive things people have done to the only place in the end we truly stand.
"As strange as it is beautiful, The Book of Unconformities is a work of great originality and imaginative force."--Elizabeth Kolbert
"A spellbinding time travelogue . . . Raffles's dense, associative, essayistic style mirrors geological transformation, compressing and folding chronologies like strata in metamorphic rock . . . Mesmerizing."--Harper's Magazine
"A work of poetic science, a smashing together of the human and the natural world, of cultures separated by time. Just as a geologic unconformity, this is erudite and artistic."--Library Journal