Home » Newpages Blog » W.W. Norton & Co

Book Review :: The Parrot and the Igloo by David Lipsky

Guest Post by Nick Agelis

David Lipsky’s 2023 summer release, The Parrot and the Igloo, is a non-fiction work that focuses on climate change, but even more provocatively, the growing denial of its existence and the mammoth topic of potential human extinction.

Lipsky explains why climate change is so contentious using trendy narrative non-fiction techniques (think Capote or Mailer) to give insight into not only Thomas Edison, George Westinghouse, and Nikola Tesla’s scientific minds, but their personal idiosyncrasies as well. These insights allow casual readers to digest a convoluted and complicated topic: climate change and the subsequent denial of it.

Lipsky’s portrayal of a doom and gloom scenario reads like a comic entertainment of a who’s who in the field of science. Rife with current pop culture references from Disney’s Frozen to equating the severity of an ozone hole to a Christopher Nolan special effect, Lipsky makes reading about a potentially pending apocalypse fun. Wait… Is that possible? Unequivocally, yes.

Lipsky garnered much of his fame writing about the much more famous David Foster Wallace in his quasi memoir, Although of Course You End Up Becoming Yourself. But with the emergence of this Pynchonesque tragicomedy of world population proportions, Lipsky firmly stands on his own.

The Parrot and the Igloo by David Lipsky. W.W. Norton & Co., July 2023.

Reviewer Bio: Nicholas Agelis is an unpublished high school English teacher and basketball coach in North Jersey, and is currently an MFA student at William Paterson University.

Book Review :: This Other Eden by Paul Harding

Guest Post by Kevin Brown

Paul Harding bases his new novel, This Other Eden, on a historical settlement of mixed-race people on an island off the coast of Maine. He uses that history as a springboard to create deep and rich characters who live there, ranging from Ethan Honey, a boy who can pass for white and has artistic talent that provides him with an opportunity others from the island never receive, to his grandmother Esther, a woman who sees the reality of what will come to their island, but who provides medicinal help to the residents in the meantime.

There are other finely-drawn characters, as well, such as Zachary Hand to God, who lives mostly in a tree while carving scenes from the Bible, and the Larks, who are almost translucent due to the amount of intermarriage in their family.

Harding pulls from historical accounts of what the government ultimately did to the residents of the island, relocating them to the mainland, putting them in institutions, even possibly sterilizing them to keep them from reproducing. Harding’s narrative voice, though, presents some contemporary views of Ethan’s artwork and the government’s actions, showing that those who lived on the island, while different than the mainlanders, had a thriving community with a culture of its own.

Harding reminds readers that what we do to others today will appear quite different a hundred years from now, which should give us pause before we alienate those who don’t match our definitions of normalcy.

This Other Eden by Paul Harding. W.W. Norton, 2023.

Reviewer bio: Kevin Brown has published three books of poetry: Liturgical Calendar: Poems (Wipf and Stock); A Lexicon of Lost Words (winner of the Violet Reed Haas Prize for Poetry, Snake Nation Press); and Exit Lines (Plain View Press). He also has a memoir, Another Way: Finding Faith, Then Finding It Again, and a book of scholarship, They Love to Tell the Stories: Five Contemporary Novelists Take on the Gospels. Twitter @kevinbrownwrite