Damnation Spring

Ash Davidson. Scribner, $28 (448p) ISBN 978-1-982144-40-1
Davidson’s impressive debut chronicles life in a working-class community so thoroughly that the reader feels the characters’ anguish as they’re divided over environmental concerns that threaten their lives and livelihoods. The tale unfolds between 1977 and 1978 and follows the Gundersen family: husband and wife Rich and Colleen; and their kindergartner son, Chub. Rich is a fourth-generation logger who dreams of a less financially burdensome future for his family when, without telling Colleen, he plunks down their savings to buy a ridge near their home in Northern California with a harvestable forest of primordial redwoods. Meanwhile Colleen—who has suffered eight miscarriages before and after Chub’s birth and who, as the local midwife, has witnessed a disturbing number of defective births—is listening to an environmentalist friend’s warning that the defoliants used by the timber company that employs Rich are leaching lethal toxins into the local water supply. Davidson mirrors the tension between Rich and Colleen with empathetic descriptions of the struggles of their neighbors, many of whom cling desperately to their jobs in the face of mounting evidence that their duplicitous employer is poisoning them. The depiction of ordinary people trapped by circumstances beyond their control makes for a heart-wrenching modern American tragedy. Agent: Chris Parris-Lamb, the Gernert Co. (Aug.)
Reviewed on : 06/11/2021
Release date: 08/01/2021
Genre: Fiction
Compact Disc - 978-1-7971-2468-1
Downloadable Audio - 978-1-7971-2466-7
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