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front cover of Pulp into Paper by Lenore Weiss

Pulp into Paper: A Novel, Fiction by Lenore Weiss

Atmosphere Press, April 2024

In the close-knit community of Hentsbury, racism and the local paper mill’s oppressive control over the town collide in a gripping tale set in the 1990s in southern Arkansas along the fictional Mud River.

Rae-Ann, owner of a convenience store and unofficial mayor of Hentsbury, finds her life intertwined with Vernon’s when a budding romance between them hits an unexpected roadblock. Their love story takes an abrupt turn when chemicals from the mill’s runoff claim the life of Rincon, a young black boy battling acute asthma. In a harrowing failed rescue attempt, Vernon, the plant’s Environmental Officer, relives the trauma of holding the dying boy in his arms.

As the community grapples with this tragedy, Vernon stumbles upon a back-door deal between state and local officials who ask him to suppress critical information about the mill’s dangerous hydrogen sulfide emissions. With the rising tensions, Rae-Ann begins to question whether Vernon will stand by his principles.

In the end, it’s Rincon’s determined grandmother, along with Rae-Ann and her older sister, who rallies the town to take action. Their efforts lead to the arrival of an EPA investigatory team, but not without consequences. When the dust settles, Vernon loses his job, but he and Rae-Ann embark on a new chapter in life together.

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