cover image The Best American Science and Nature Writing 2019

The Best American Science and Nature Writing 2019

Edited by Sy Montgomery. Mariner, $15.99 trade paper (336p) ISBN 978-1-328-51900-9

Naturalist Montgomery (How to Be a Good Creature) emphasizes a sense of wide-eyed wonder in this enjoyable anthology. Included are topical pieces such as Linda Villarosa’s investigation into African-American infant mortality rates and Rebecca Mead’s report on a transgender woman undergoing facial surgery. But overall, this collection of 26 essays—from such publications as the Atlantic, Atlas Obscura, the New Yorker, and Pacific Standard—is less concerned with the hot-button issues, such as the rise of artificial intelligence, much discussed in contemporary science writing. There are stories about catching insects in Denmark, tracing hydrocarbon gasses at ancient oracle sites in and near Greece, and hunting down the elusive forms of life in Chile’s Atacama Desert. Often the writing strikes a personal, emotional note: Conor Gearin muses about his upcoming marriage while walking in Iowa’s Hitchcock Nature Center, and Molly Osberg tells of her near-fatal experience with a rare form of strep. Endangered animals (vaquita porpoises in the Gulf of California, right whales in Cape Cod Bay, and rhinos in Cincinnati Zoo) also claim much of the contributors’ attention. Readers in need of some substantive escapism will appreciate this offering of the previous year’s finest science and nature writing. [em]Agent: Sarah Jane Freymann, Sarah Jane Freyman Literary (Oct.)[/em]